This document is concerned with refugee integration in the specific location of Cyprus. A refugee integration policy by the Cypriot administration has been found to be virtually non-existent. This fact led the UNHCR Representation in Nicosia to undertake the present preliminary study with the aim of making suggestions to the Government of the Republic of Cyprus for the development of an integration policy for refugees and on how to carry out concrete refugee integration efforts.
The study is set up as follows: Chapter 2 introduces the concept of integration, establishes a working definition and its rationale, and the relevant policy context in the EU and Cyprus. Chapter 3 establishes a framework of key elements of integration, after discussing other countries’ experience with migration and integration for comparison, as they have been laid out by the academia and practice. Two short sections on conditions and indicators of integration follow. Chapter 4 is the central part of the study. It analyzes the Cypriot context and it reviews the most pressing needs identified to achieve refugee integration in Cyprus. Chapter 5 gives concrete recommendations for refugee integration in a number of fields. The recommendations are informed by the key elements of integration, an analysis of other countries’ experiences, as well as Good Practice examples concerning integration. They are based on the analysis of the particular Cypriot experience with migration and refugees in order to ascertain that proposed integration measures will be effective and feasible for Cyprus.
Integration is a dynamic two-way process involving rights and obligations on the part of the refugees as well as of the host society; moreover integration is a multidimensional process with legal, economic, social and cultural prerequisites and implications. It is important to remember that integration is a natural process that has always happened, but as refugees face unique barriers to integration, they need to be assisted in their efforts.
Integration consist of an integral part of refugee protection, and can – if managed in the right way – benefit not only refugees, but host societies as well, in promoting economic and cultural diversification needed to avoid stagnation in the future. In the light of recent security concerns, the need for social cohesion in European societies has been emphasized.
The key prerequisite is to formulate a comprehensive integration strategy for third-country nationals taking into account the special needs of refugees. Further efforts are needed to enhance Cypriot society’s ability to adapt to diversity and multiculturalism; regarding refugee integration there is a strong need to inform the general public, civil servants and teachers about rights and obligations of refugees.
Concrete measures proposed for promoting refugee integration include language courses, education and training of refugees and measures facilitating their access to employment, housing and welfare services. In a broader scope, efforts aimed at strengthening civil society would be highly desirable through support and funding of civil society organizations (NGOs) concerned with refugees and their integration.
UNHCR Cyprus March 2009
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