Asylum seekers in Cyprus have the right to access reception conditions during the administrative and judicial examination of their asylum applications. Access to reception conditions is not ensured during the judicial examination of decisions issued in the accelerated procedure; subsequent applications; decisions that determine the asylum application is unfounded or inadmissible; and decisions related to explicit or implicit withdrawal.
The Asylum Service, under the Ministry of Interior, is responsible for coordinating all other authorities on asylum issues, including related to reception. The Asylum Service is also responsible for the operation of reception and accommodation centres for asylum seekers. Although they may have a coordinating role, each right under reception conditions is provided for by the competent Ministry, as a result four Ministries are involved, which often leads to fragmented and uncoordinated approach and planning.
Since 2019, all persons wishing to apply for asylum who entered the country in an irregular manner, are referred to the Pournara First Reception Centre for registration, lodging of asylum application, and medical and vulnerability screenings. Access to reception conditions is provided at the Centre for a stay of approximately 40 to 60 days. Upon exiting the Centre, asylum seekers have access to reception conditions in the community or in the Reception Centres (Kofinou, UASC shelters), whereas a limited number of persons are moved to the Reception/Pre-Removal Center, Limnes. For persons who arrived in a regular manner they will have access to reception conditions upon concluding registration.
Living conditions in Kofinou are considered decent, whereas conditions in Pournara and Limnes have been evaluated as sub-standard. Regarding shelters for UASC, conditions vary depending on the facility; at times, overcrowding has been an issue in some shelters.
With the total number of asylum seekers reaching over 30,000 by the end of 2022, and capacity of Reception Centres limited to around 1000 persons, most asylum seekers reside in the community in private houses/apartments, which they are required to secure on their own. SWS bear the responsibility of processing applications and addressing asylum seekers’ needs, including the allocation of an allowance to cover housing expenses. The asylum seeker is expected to provide all necessary documentation.
2022 continued to be an extremely challenging year for the country’s reception system. The ongoing absence of a comprehensive reception system combined with the stringent measures adopted by the authorities to address migration and refugee flows, along with the continued increase in arrivals had a severe impact on the ability of the reception system to address the needs of newly arrived persons, as well as of those already present in the country.
Reception standards remain below adequate levels, exposing asylum seekers to the risk of homelessness and destitution. The majority of asylum seekers live in the community and are often extremely impoverished. Centres are overcrowded and in need of structural renovation to reach acceptable sanitation and hygiene standards, as well as to provide safeguards against sexual and gender-based violence for both children and single women. The timely identification and response to the needs of vulnerable individuals, including children, both within reception facilities and in the community, requires improvement.
 Material Reception Conditions by the Social Welfare Services under the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare; Employment under the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance; Education under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports; Healthcare under the Ministry of Health.