Seeking Asylum In Cyprus (Part 4) – Arriving Is Not Refuge

We’ve now talked about how many people make the journey, why they do it and what the journey is like. In our final article in this series, we talk about what people can expect when they arrive. Even if they succeed in arriving in Cyprus, they continue to face huge dangers and risks.


The promise of the opportunity to study in Cyprus is commonly used by human traffickers to lure young men and women to take the journey only to find themselves at the mercy of the human traffickers upon arrival.

The Turkish human rights group, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, recently highlighted the risk to people travelling to the Northern part of Cyprus on the promise of educational opportunities and highlighted the ‘loose requirements’ to get into universities in Northern Cyprus which was being exploited by human traffickers.

A report by the EU also highlighted the concerns about people being enrolled in fake ‘universities’ in the northern part of Cyprus and then attempting to cross the ‘Green Line’.


Like with many situations involving human traffickers, the reality meeting people arriving in Northern Cyprus is far from the image and narrative told to them in their country of origin.

Women in particular are at risk of being sex trafficked, with a report from the US Department of State highlighting the risk of women from Africa being trafficked in nightclubs licensed and regulated by Turkish Cypriot representatives. The report also notes that both men and women are exploited through forced labour and in sectors such as retail and agriculture.


It should be clear from this series of articles that despite the dangers, people will keep trying to seek refuge in Cyprus.

But the risks they face both on the journey and on arrival are unacceptable. Just as people make the journeys for many different reasons, many things need to change to support people who have decided to take the risk.

Here are the key policies that need to be done. Sadly, none of these are being implemented at any scale:

– Safe and accessible routes for people to seek refuge in Europe.
– Humane and dignified treatment on arrival.
– Programmes to support their integration into the host country.
– A sharing of responsibility (or opportunity) across Europe rather than leaving it to frontline states.

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