Freedom of movement


Country Report: Freedom of movement Last updated: 09/05/24


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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days or as soon as possible after changing their address.[2] If they fail to do so, they may be considered to have withdrawn their asylum application, although in practice in recent years there have been no indications of this being implemented.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. Throughout 2022 the situation remained unresolved.[5] UNHCR, with the cooperation of Syrian residents and organized groups in the area,[6] as well as other local initiatives,[7] advocated for a peaceful and respectful resolution of the tension as well as reversing the negative representation in the media.

In 2023, there was a significant surge in violence against migrants in Cyprus, with incidents including pogrom-like demonstrations and violent attacks against racialized people, including migrants and refugees.[8] The main incidents took place in Chloraka and then Limassol where migrant-owned shops were destroyed, and several people were attacked by mobs. There has also been a rise in attacks and reports of police profiling. Experts have blamed the increased mainstreaming of xenophobia in Cypriot politics and media, fuelled by the spread of disinformation and the mismanagement of the large number of people trying to reach Europe.[9]

Asylum seekers in Pournara and in the closed section of Limnes do not have freedom of movement.[10] Regarding Pournara, for the duration of stay persons are not are not allowed to move in and out of the Centre and during 2023, the average duration of stay was 30-40 days for adults and 80 days for UASC. 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 Centre at different times, either for medical or employment reasons.



[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] Philenews, Community leader of Chloraka calls for measures and warns of mobilizations, 5 January 2022, available in Greek at:; Dialogos, With slogans “Cypriots first” and not “Fake refugees” a group protested in Chloraka, 5 January 2022, available in Greek at:

[6] UNHCR, Refugee integration programs can enhance social cohesion in Chloraka, Pafos, 20 July 2020, available at:; Politis, Syrian volunteers are restoring a listed building in the Municipal Market, 18 February 2022, available in Greek at:

[7] Dialogos, AKEL Paphos: Initiative to solve problems after the recent events in Chloraka, 14 January 2022, available in Greek at:; KISA, KISA denounces racism, violence and hate speech against Syrian refugees in Chloraka, 11 January 2022, available in Greek at

[8] ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 8 September 2023, Racist violence against migrants in Cyprus, available at:

Amnesty International, Cyprus: Authorities must protect migrants and refugees from racist attacks, 6 September 2023, available at: 

[9] France 24, Cyprus migrants face wave of attacks as hostility brews, 12 September 2023, available at:

[10] For more information regarding extended stay at Pournara during 2020 and 2021, see respective Updates of the AIDA Country Reports on 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