News Local Labour Ministry grappling for solutions over sharp rise in asylum seekers

Labour Ministry grappling for solutions over sharp rise in asylum seekers

The biggest challenge to the Labour Ministry’s housing and benefits programme is the rapid increase in asylum seekers, Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou said on Thursday.

She told a House Watchdog Committee hearing on the auditor general’s 2017 report on her ministry that there are currently 25,000 applicants for international protection in Cyprus. She added that there are 1000 new applications a month adding that she will be proposing an increase in the rent subsidy for all recipients to cabinet by the end of the month.

Addressing the issue of homelessness, the minister clarified that it was the Interior Ministry that was in charge of housing. In its search for immediate solutions to find housing for asylum seekers, the Interior Ministry was considering pre-fab houses, she added.

Emilianidou said that when asylum seekers leave the reception centres, they need somewhere to stay. The state often puts them in hotels at huge cost, she added. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work in the first six months after applying for international protection and efforts are underway with social partners to shorten this ‘no work’ period to one month.

A change in the system under which applicants are given coupons rather than cash has led to lower costs, the minister said.

Regarding plans to house unaccompanied minors at Zygi where a reception centre was planned at an old army camp, the minister said that the EU and other experts had advised that 100 is too many for a single space.

She said that land belonging to the Labour Ministry had been found and talks were underway with the EU Commission to use that.

According to the Asylum Information Database (AID) the number of asylum applications has significantly increased in recent years with 2,871 in 2016, 4,459 in 2017, and 7,761 in 2018, bringing Cyprus first in the per capita number of applications among the 28 EU Member States. The upward trend has continued in early 2019 with 1,090 persons applying in January 2019 compared to 440 in January 2018.

“The combination of highly restrictive policy relating to the level of allowance, the sharp increase in rent prices as well as the reluctance on behalf of homeowners to rent properties to refugees has resulted in an alarming homelessness problem as well as asylum seekers living in appalling conditions,” the AID says.

Read more:


Top Stories

Total loans increase by €2.8 mln in January, after suspension of loan installments ends

Total loans in January 2021 recorded a net increase of €2.8 million, compared with a net increase of €583.7 million in December 2020, according to...

Where to get a rapid test on Friday, 26 February

Aiming at the continuous surveillance of the community and the workplaces, the free programmes of rapid antigen testing of the general population and employees...

Agreement with Israel valid as of 1st April

Commenting on reports that Israelis are expressing interest in passing Passover in Cyprus, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said that the agreement reached with Israel...

Health Minister: By summer 70% of the population will be vaccinated

After the announcement of the gradual relaxation of measures, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou referred to vaccination noting that "the Vaccination Plan is going according...

Undocumented migrants occupy Belgian church, seek help from government

A large group of undocumented migrants has occupied a church in Belgium to attract the attention of the government as their situation has become...


Squash soup

Ingredients: 1 kg pumpkin, cut into small cubes, approximately 5 cups 2 medium (400g) sweet potatoes, cut into cubes, approximately 2 ½ cups 1 chopped leek, only...


No visit to Cyprus is complete without enjoying the traditional meal of many small dishes known as ‘meze’. This large feast, which has been a...

Prawns with fried cheese, barley shaped pasta

Put the barley shaped pasta into a small pan with salted water, bring to a boil and when tender, drain. Peal the prawns leaving...

Salmon and shrimp sheftalies

Mix all ingredients for tabbouli in a bowl and keep to one side so flavours can combine. Prepare the sheftalies: wash and soak the casing...