IOM in Cyprus

 

IOM in Cyprus

Cyprus became an IOM Member-State in May 1974 at a time when a lot of Cypriots were emigrating to Australia, Canada, South Africa, the US and other European countries. IOM started its activities in Cyprus much later when it was invited to set up an office locally.

IOM Cyprus operates on the basis of a Seat Agreement N.6(III)/ 2014 which was ratified in the House of Representatives on 13th June 2014. This Agreement defines the scope of IOM activities in the country which shall be to implement in the Republic of Cyprus migration programmes such as capacity building, advisory services and technical cooperation on migration issues, migration and health, international migration law, migration information, counter-trafficking, migration on nationals and aliens, assistance to internally and externally displaced persons and other persons in need, return of qualified human resources, other assisted return activities and resettlement programmes.

The IOM country office in Cyprus was inaugurated in November 2015 and is located in Nicosia. It falls under the purview of the IOM Regional Office for the European Economic Area, the European Union and NATO in Brussels, Belgium.

The IOM office in Cyprus works closely with the governmental authorities of Cyprus such as the Ministry of Interior, the Deputy Ministry of Social Welfare, UN and EU agencies and in collaboration with diverse partners within the civil society, local authorities and academia. Various projects include assisted voluntary return and reintegration, housing, and integration for unaccompanied migrant children over 16 years old and public awareness to counter the rise in xenophobia and discrimination.

Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration

IOM provides support to the government of Cyprus through the implementation of the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme, which assists third country nationals wishing to return to their country of origin. Assistance consists of information provision and counselling, procuring travel documents, arranging safe travel, and providing reintegration support. Tailored assistance is provided to specific vulnerable groups, including migrants with health concerns, victims of trafficking and unaccompanied children. The AVRR programme began its operation in Cyprus in 2016 and it is co-funded by the Asylum, Migration, and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the Republic of Cyprus.

Transition of Unaccompanied Migrant Children to Adulthood

In 2020 IOM launched the operation of a program in collaboration with the Social Welfare Services of the Deputy Ministry of Social Welfare of the Republic of Cyprus under the title “Operation of semi-independent living units for unaccompanied migrant children over 16”. The program aims to facilitate a smooth transition to adulthood through the creation of semi-independent living units as an alternative care model for unaccompanied migrant children in Cyprus.

The program's aim is also to foster the inclusion of children in the local community and to protect their rights. IOM seeks to meet the individual needs of unaccompanied migrant children by ensuring their access to education and vocational training, health services and psychosocial support.