The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) works to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees all over the world. UNHCR’s purpose is to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge from war and persecution. UNHCR also protects stateless people. In all of its activities, UNHCR pays particular attention to the needs of children and seeks to promote the equal rights of women and girls.
UNHCR Cyprus works to protect the rights and welfare of asylum-seekers and refugees through legal advice, training and other support to the authorities. UNHCR Cyprus also collaborates with NGOs to support refugees and asylum-seekers in meeting their needs, and conducts educational and public information activities on refugee issues.
UNHCR’s fundamental business in Cyprus is to assist the Government to further refine and improve its asylum legislation and the procedures and capacities for a refugee protection system fully in line with international standards. This would require that existing gaps and weaknesses in the national asylum legislation and practice are addressed, migration management policies incorporate protection safeguards, the refugee status determination procedures are further reformed to make them both fair and efficient, and programmes are put in place to help refugees find a durable solution by way of local integration. To achieve these objectives, UNHCR undertakes a number of activities:
- Monitoring and promoting respect for refugee rights and the standards of treatment of asylum-seekers, particularly as regards access to asylum procedures, reception conditions and detention.
- Influencing legislation affecting refugees and asylum-seekers by providing expert advice and comments on relevant draft laws to ensure compliance with international and EU standards.
- Providing technical assistance, legal advice and other forms of support to assist the authorities to further strengthen their refugee status determination procedures and ensure quality decision-making.
- Monitoring and advocacy to ensure that unaccompanied and separated children have effective access to the national child protection system with respect to accurate and timely identification, registration and documentation; guardianship and legal representation; adequate care and supervision; tracing and family reunification. Central to these actions is a best interest determination.
- Training of key stakeholders from the government and civil society on basic protection issues, including refugee rights, reception conditions for asylum-seekers, durable solutions, child protection, etc.
- Promoting good practices in relation to policies and measures that support the effective integration of refugees into the social, economic and cultural fabric of Cypriot society, including advocacy for naturalization, long-term residence permit and family reunification.
- Promoting accession to the UN statelessness conventions.
- Strengthening and broadening public information, awareness-raising and sensitization activities through media work, school activities, special campaigns, seminars and constituency-building.
- Strengthening partnerships with NGOs and other civil society actors involved in refugee protection.
UNHCR Services are Free of Charge
There is no charge for any service provided by UNHCR, whether directly or through its implementing partners. Any person, including a UNHCR employee, or organisation claiming to be able to help an asylum-seeker or a refugee to receive a UNHCR service for money or favours must be reported to the UNHCR Representative immediately. An asylum-seeker or a refugee must not attempt under any circumstances to bribe any person working for UNHCR or its implementing partners in any capacity.
Click here for contact details of UNHCR’s office in Cyprus.