NICOSIA – Cyprus’ government needs to do more to help children of undocumented migrants who stay on the island for long periods, Children’s Rights Commissioner Leda Koursoumba said.
In 2017, Cyprus granted protection status to 1,005 Syrians (78 percent) to 75 Somalians (6 percent) and 50 Iraqis (4 percent), representing only 0.4 percent of the 538,000 asylum seekers in the European Union, the statistics agency Eurostat said.
In a report, she said she’s been getting many complaints concerning problems faced by families of undocumented immigrants who have been living for a long period of time in Cyprus and can’t get legal status.
Most of them end up staying for many years in the country of destination, either with residence permits and/or without papers, the report said, living a kind of stateless limbo, unable to return to their homeland or move to other countries.
The report said undocumented migrant families were one of the most vulnerable groups in Europe and live in poverty, exploitation, violence, social exclusion and the children have insurmountable problems without help, the Cyprus Mail said in a story on her report.
The Council of Europe, it said, recognizes undocumented children as “triply vulnerable, as migrants, as persons in an irregular situation and as children”.
Her report indicated that undocumented migrants, especially children, live in obscurity, without access to rights.
Koursoumba said that in cases where the interior minister finally approves the special residence permit, this is granted for only one year and provided that all other conditions under the law or administrative practice for the issue of a residence permit and work to third-country nationals are met.
She said it’s critical for the families and children to get regular and permanent status and which ensures their effective inclusion in Cypriot society. “The creation of such a regulatory framework is in the interest of the children of this migrant group,” she said.