There is no set time frame regarding beneficiaries’ right to stay in the Reception Centre, however persons are informed and urged by the Asylum Service to expedite their transition to the community. As the vast majority of people will not be able to secure employment immediately after receiving international protection, almost all persons will need to apply for financial aid through the national Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI) scheme.
A procedure to accommodate the transition of persons receiving international protection to the community is currently under implementation. Arrangements include financial aid / pocket money given directly to the former residents; two-month’s rent allowance in advance, provision of one week stay in a hotel in case they are not able to find accommodation before leaving the Centre; informing Social Welfare Services of persons moving into the community. Further monitoring is required with respect to assessing the efficiency of those arrangements.
Following a roundtable consultation between the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Labour, UNHCR and the Future Worlds Center, under the auspices of the Ombudsman’s office in 2015, it was decided that applications for GMI by beneficiaries who are still residing in the Reception Centre will be prioritised. Although efforts have been made, in practice, several months elapse before people are able to move out of the Reception Centre. This is partly due to the fact that the GMI scheme does not provide amounts for housing, unless a specific property has already been contracted. Moreover, it also due to the sharp increase of rent prices, the fact that rent deposits are not covered through the GMI scheme and the fact that most residents will not be able to secure a job on-time.
In February 2018, Eritrean refugees arriving in Cyprus through the EU relocation scheme, who were living in the Kofinou Reception Centre and had recently been granted refugee status, set fire to the offices of the centre as an act of demonstration against the termination of their GMI benefits which would have enabled them to secure accommodation out of Kofinou (see Reception Conditions: Conditions in Reception Facilities).
There have been no cases of people being evicted out of the Reception Centre without any housing arrangement. However, there is always a sufficient number of persons with international protection residing in Kofinou Reception Centre, indicating that transitioning out of the centre is problematic. Towards the end of 2019, the total number of residents was 243 persons out of which 41 have an international protection status.
There are no schemes in effect providing housing to beneficiaries of international protection. Persons will need to secure private accommodation on their own. This is often a difficult task, due to language barriers and financial constraints related to high levels of unemployment, high rent prices and the extent of assorted allowances. In 2018, securing private accommodation became even more difficult for refugees who have recently been granted protection as well as refugees living in the community for a few years. The sharp rise in rents made it harder to identify appropriate accommodation as well as the reluctance on behalf of landlords to rent properties to refugees, including persons with a regular income. The situation in 2019 became even more dire as no actions were taken by the state to address the issue.