Information for asylum seekers and access to NGOs and UNHCR


Country Report: Information for asylum seekers and access to NGOs and UNHCR Last updated: 10/07/24


Cyprus Refugee Council Visit Website

In accordance with the law,[1] the Asylum Service shall issue a leaflet (φυλλάδιο) in a language which the applicants can understand or are reasonably supposed to understand concerning: the benefits to which they have a right to in relation to reception conditions and the procedures required to access these benefits; the obligations with which they must comply in relation to the reception conditions; the organisations or groups of persons that provide specific legal assistance; and organisations that might be able to help or inform the applicant about existing reception conditions, including health care.

The Refugee Law also provides that the leaflet is given to applicants when they lodge their application by the responsible person at the authority responsible for receiving asylum applications, the AIU, as well any other necessary information regarding reception conditions, which may be provided orally or in writing in a language that they understand or are reasonably supposed to understand.[2] The Asylum Service must ensure that the above information is provided within a reasonable time, not exceeding 15 days from lodging the application and for this purpose provides the necessary guidance.

In practice, the provision of information has always been one of the most important gaps in the system and remained so throughout 2022 and 2023. Overall, there is extremely limited information available, written or otherwise and very few information providers, mainly NGOs with limited capacity.

The Asylum Service at times issued an information leaflet, which was not easily accessible and mostly providing outdated information.[3] In 2019, efforts were made by the Asylum Service in collaboration with EUAA to produce more effective information materials, however due to the changes taking place in the asylum system, this was delayed and at time of publication it had not been updated.

Regarding information provision in Pournara, as of 2023, 3 EUAA Info Providers are stationed at the Centre providing group sessions in the presence of interpreters. The group sessions are provided in groups of approximately 20 adults and include information on the registration process in the Reception Center, the asylum procedure, and reception conditions. While at present the information is provided orally, the aim is to provide information in writing in the future. The information sessions are a positive development however they are not sufficient to cover the overall lack of information on the asylum procedures, especially due to extremely limited sources of information and in view of the lengthy asylum procedures.

A leaflet published by UNHCR is also disseminated in Pournara Centre, providing basic info on asylum process and reception conditions; however in late 2023 this was put in hold as the leaflet is being updated. In the meantime, 2 leaflets, issued by the Asylum Service are provided; one explaining the Dublin procedure, and the other the asylum procedure.[4]

In 2023, an information kiosk near the admin office. This kiosk allows anyone to seek information, make appointments, and discuss further questions.

Regarding the provision of information to UASC, it is considered to be the responsibility of the Social Welfare Officers who act as Guardians, however this is often insufficient due to the limited capacity of the guardians and their lacking of required knowledge to provide such information.

When lodging an application, applicants are given a leaflet on the Dublin procedure which includes general information on the Dublin procedure, and a separate information leaflet is available specifically for unaccompanied children.[5] The leaflet also includes contact numbers of government and European agencies involved in the Dublin procedure as well as UNHCR.

Other information materials are produced by NGOs such as information leaflets, booklets, online platforms, and websites, regarding the asylum procedure, asylum seekers’ rights and obligations, and available support services. However, these are not always available nor are they updated consistently since they are often prepared within the framework of various European-funded projects. These leaflets/booklets may be available at various access points for asylum seekers only if the implementing agencies take the initiative to disseminate them or if the asylum seekers come into contact with the NGOs providing direct assistance.

The UNHCR Representation in Cyprus also has an online information platform for asylum seekers and refugees since 2017, covering asylum procedures; the rights and duties of asylum seekers and refugees; and information about government programmes and NGOs that offer various types of assistance and integration support.[6] The platform is available in English, French and Arabic. The UNHCR online information platform includes specific information for unaccompanied children.[7]

As regards decisions, according to the Refugee Law, the Head of the Asylum Service must inform the applicant about the decision on their application and the timeframe to exercise their right to appeal in a language that they understand or may reasonably be considered to understand.[8] In practice, the decision of the Asylum Service is provided in written form, the first page is provided in Greek or English and in a language understood by the asylum seeker, and includes whether a status has been granted or not, as well as the relevant legal provisions. Until late 2022, only a half-page summary of the reasoning of the decision was provided and this is only in Greek or rarely in English, whereas a detailed reasoning of the decision exists in the file at the Asylum Service, as well as the interview transcript. From late 2022 onwards, a detailed reasoning of the decision is provided in cases of negative decisions, only in English, which is a positive development as it provides the applicant and legal advisors/lawyers with immediate access to the reasons the asylum application has been rejected.

The UNHCR online platform also provides information in English, Arabic and French regarding judicial appeal before the IPAC and how to apply for legal aid.[9]

Regarding subsequent applications, currently, there is no information provided by the State on this procedure, including the fact that the applicant does not have the right to remain and no access to basic rights (see Subsequent Applications).

As for information in detention, in the main detention centre and in prisons, there are leaflets available on the general rights and obligations of detainees, but no information available on the asylum procedure. This often leads to persons not understanding that they may have an asylum claim or how to access the asylum procedures, th ye right to apply for legal aid and/or access to remedies. According to the Refugee Law, each detained applicant should be informed immediately in writing, in a language which they either understands or reasonably are supposed to understand, the reasons for detention, judicial remedies, and the possibility of applying for free legal assistance and representation in such proceedings in accordance with the Legal Aid Law.[10] In practice, detainees are provided with a detention order that includes the articles of the law based on which they are detained and, in brief, the remedies available (see Detention). There is no justification as to the individual reasons or facts or on procedures to access the available remedies.[11]

In late 2019, the Cyprus Refugee Council published a leaflet made available in the main detention centre that included information on detention, available remedies, legal aid, and how these can be accessed.[12] It was also disseminated in 2020 and again in 2023.

According to the Rights of Persons who are Arrested and Detained Law,[13] every detainee has the right to have meetings with their lawyer. Lawyers appointed by detainees, legal representatives of NGOs working on asylum issues or UNHCR representatives, can visit asylum seekers in the detention centre and hold meetings with detainees confidentially. No major obstacle has been identified in visitation of lawyers, however representatives of NGOs or UNHCR are obliged to inform of their intention to visit the detention centre or a detainee, whereas lawyers are not. In 2022 and 2023, no issues were registered.

Regarding access of asylum seekers to NGOs and UNHCR, for those residing in the community, there are no issues regarding access other than the limited capacity of NGOs to address the needs and requests of asylum seekers in the country. Regarding access to Reception Centres, NGOs access to Kofinou Reception Centre upon request and such request are in most cases granted. Asylum seekers in Pournara only have access to NGOs providing services in the Centre, but they do not have access to lawyers or to legal advisors of NGOs. Asylum seekers in Limnes do not have access to lawyers or NGOs.




[1] Article 9A Refugee Law.

[2] Article 9A(2) Refugee Law.

[3] Asylum Service, Guide for applicants for international protection (asylum seekers) and for beneficiaries of international protection, available at:

[4] Information provided by Cyprus Refugee Council.

[5] Asylum Service, Information leaflets on the Dublin Regulation and the Eurodac Regulations, available at:

[6] UNHCR, UNHCR Help – Cyprus, available at:

[7] UNHCR, If you are under 18, available at:

[8] Article 18(7E) and (7B) Refugee Law.

[9] UNHCR, UNHCR Help – Cyprus, available at:

[10] Article 9ΣΤ(8) Refugee Law.

[11] Information provided by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[12] Information provided by Cyprus Refugee Council.

[13] Article 12 Rights of Persons who are Arrested and Detained Law.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation