Integration Practices in the Republic of Cyprus: The Impact of Policies on Refugees

Integration is an important tool for managing relations and encouraging cohesion between groups in pluralistic societies. Integration can be a positive force in a community in that it can result in economic prosperity and social action. Integration is beneficial for migrants because it helps ensure enjoyment of fundamental human rights and ideally gives migrants social, economic and political opportunities equal to those afforded to the local community. It encourages migrants to actively participate and invest within the receiving society by means of social and cultural exchange- working together with the local population to ensure a better future. However, the realities of integration policies often differ in practice because all aspects of integration are interrelated and interdependent. In the case of Cyprus, migrants are given access to education, healthcare and are protected by anti-discrimination policies but face barriers to integration due to poor accommodation standards, restrictions on citizenship and family reunification, and limited access to the labor market. Through a literature review of integration approaches and from an analysis of empirical findings, this paper seeks to pinpoint affect of Cyprus’s integration policies on beneficiaries of international protection and argues that Cypriot integration policies are largely concerned with deterring migrants from arrival rather than encouraging a multifaceted sociocultural, political and economic integration. This report also serves to acknowledge the gap between integration policy and practice in Cyprus. Cyprus’s policies, as well as policies in other societies, must acknowledge the unique challenges and needs of every individual and work to create an approach that encourages integration and protects the rights and opportunities of all people.