Cyprus: Towards an Asylum Crisis

PCC Policy Brief

Karakoulaki, Marianna (2019) Cyprus: Towards an Asylum Crisis, PRIO Cyprus Centre Policy Brief, 1. Nicosia: PRIO Cyprus Centre.

​Despite Cyprus's close proximity to the Middle East, the island never received large numbers of refugees and/or asylum seekers. There are several explanations for this,  including the (illegal) status of the northern part of the island, the country's distance from the rest of the EU, and the fact that Cyprus is not a member of the Schengen Zone. More specifically, because Cyprus is not part of the Schengen Zone, migrants' movements are restricted, and they are not guaranteed the safe treatment provided in the Schengen Border Code (Carr 2016).  However, in 2018 and 2019 Cyprus experienced a large increase in the number of people arriving as refugees/asylum seekers, and this has consequently led to a backlog of asylum applications. By examining data provided by the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) and media analyses of the latest developments in the country, this policy brief will investigate two questions: can the increased number of arrivals of refugees and migrants in Cyprus be described as a crisis; can this increase have an impact on settlement of the Cyprus Problem.