Freedom of movement


Country Report: Freedom of movement Last updated: 11/04/23


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The Refugee Law grants asylum seekers the right to free movement and choice of residence in the areas controlled by the RoC.[1] Therefore asylum seekers cannot cross the “green line” to the northern areas not under the control of the RoC, although other third-country nationals who are legally in Cyprus either as visitors or under some form of residence, employment, or student permit do have the right to cross.

Asylum seekers are obliged to report any changes of living address to the authorities either within five working days or as soon as possible after changing their address.[2] If they fail to do so, they may be considered to have withdrawn their asylum application, although in practice in recent years there have been no indications of this being implemented. There is no legislative differentiation regarding the provision of MRC based on the area of residence.

The Minister of Interior may restrict freedom of movement within some the controlled areas and decide on the area of residence of an asylum seeker for reasons of public interest or order.[3]

Asylum seekers living in the community reside where they choose, with the exception of Chloraka, in the Paphos district where, according to a Ministerial Decree issued in December 2020, new asylum seekers are no longer allowed to reside.[4] The rationale behind the decision includes reasons such as the “massive settlement of International Protection holders” in the area, resulting in “social problems” and “demographic change”. Persons originating mainly from Syria have been residing in the particular area for over 10 years, some even prior to the Syrian conflict. The number of Syrian residents has particularly increased during the last 4 years, as a result of the Syrian crisis. The Decree was issued after demonstrations were held by a number of local actors, which raised concerns over the potential for “racial alteration” of the community, due to approximately 20% of its residents being Syrians. Public discussion raised by a crime involving a Syrian resident resulted in the stigmatisation of the whole Syrian community in the area. The Decree fails to provide informed and relevant reasons for imposing the particular restrictions while it introduces a racially discriminatory rationale, contradicting the provisions of Directive 2013/33, as well as various anti-discriminatory provisions outlined by international and local legal texts.

Until today, the situation remains unresolved.[5] UNHCR, with the cooperation of Syrian residents and organized groups in the area,[6] as well as other local initiatives,[7] have been advocating for a peaceful and respectful resolution of the tension as well as reversing the negative representation in the media.

Asylum seekers in Pournara and in the closed section of Limnes do not have freedom of movement. Regarding Pournara during 2022 the stay is approximately 40-60 days and during this time they are not allowed to leave the Centre. In the case of Limnes for those in the open section there is free movement between 9am-9pm, however exceptions are made in relation to persons who might need to exit the center at different times, either for medical or employment reasons.

In early 2020, due to the Action Plan to address the flows of migrants in the country and then COVID-19 measures, without prior notice, asylum seekers were obliged to remain at the Pournara Camp for undefined periods, reaching many months and leading to a situation of de facto detention. This policy continued throughout 2020 and early 2021, with persons remaining in the Centre for periods reaching 5-6 months. Only a small number of asylum seekers were allowed to move out of the Centre, usually due to their vulnerability or ability to secure a valid address in the community. For instance, at times Syrian asylum seekers were allowed to leave, the justification being that they have relatives or friends that could provide accommodation. At other times, and after strong reactions from asylum seekers in the Centre, the Asylum Service started allowing 10 or 20 persons per day to leave, with priority given to vulnerable persons and women but only if they could present a valid address. The situation raised concerns among UNHCR, [8] the EU Commission[9] and the Human rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe.[10] From early 2021 onward, residents are allowed to exit the Centre after registration procedures and tests are concluded with an average stay time of approximately 60 days. Throughout 2022 the average duration of stay was approximately 40-60 days.




[1] Article 9KB(2) and (4) Refugee Law.

[2] Article 8(2)(a) Refugee Law.

[3] Article 9E(1) Refugee Law.

[4] Ministerial Decree Κ.Δ.Π. 583/2020 pursuant to Article 9E(1)(a)(ii) of the Refugee Law, available at:

[5] “Μέτρα ζητά ο Κοινοτάρχης Χλώρακας και προειδοποιεί με κινητοποιήσεις” see at:; Με συνθήματα «Πρώτα οι Κύπριοι» και όχι στους «Ψεύτικους πρόσφυγες» διαμαρτυρήθηκε ομάδα στη Χλώρακα», see at:

[6] Refugee integration programs can enhance social cohesion in Chloraka, Pafos, available at:; «Σύροι εθελοντές αποκαθιστούν διατηρητέο κτήριο στη Δημοτική Αγορά» see at:

[7] “ΑΚΕΛ Πάφου: Πρωτοβουλία για επίλυση προβλημάτων μετά τα πρόσφατα συμβάντα στη Χλώρακα” see at:; “Η ΚΙΣΑ καταγγέλλει τον ρατσισμό, τη βία και τη ρητορική μίσους εναντίον των Σύρων προσφύγων στη Χλώρακα», see at

[8] Kathimerini ‘UNHCR: Need to decongest Pournara’ 13 January 2021 (available in Greek) available at:  

[9] Kathimerini ‘Brussels concerned about Pournara’ 16 February 2021 (available in Greek) available at:  

[10] Council of Europe, Commissioner of Human Rights, Letter to the Minister of Interior of Cyprus, available at: 

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