KISA-International Migrant’s Day

Cyprus, Migration and Asylum, Press Release

“Cyprus must act. History tells us that migration has been an essential ingredient of growth and development of many countries. It is already essential to economic survival of this country. However, unless regulated by appropriate laws and regulations, it entails a high cost in violations of rights of persons, in social disruption, in reduced productivity, and lost opportunities for economic growth and development.” The words of Patrick Taran, Specialist on International Labour Migration and Governance at a recent conference in Nicosia.

On 4 December 2000, the United Nations, in view of the growing number of migrants world-wide, decided to declare 18 December as the international Migrants’ Day. The reasoning behind this Day was, mostly, in order to highlight the positive effects of migration as a social phenomenon on both the countries of origin and the countries of destination, as well as to safeguard the human rights of migrants, irrespective of status. Furthermore, particular emphasis is also given on bilateral agreements between states but also regional and global cooperation and agreements on issues concerning global migration.

Migrants’ contribution to the Cypriot society has been complex and extensive, far beyond the economy which is somewhat acknowledged by most. Migrants have played an important part in the development and well-being of the Cypriot society in the last years as, for example, in the significant improvement of the welfare system, the liberation of women from domesticity and their subsequent mass entrance into the labour market leading to their economic independence, and the improvement of social cohesion in general.
Regarding the economy, migrants have been instrumental in the production of a large section of Cyprus’s GDP, which was not reflected in the benefits they enjoyed. Today, growth and development is acknowledged to be the key to lead us out of the economic crisis, totally disregarding the important role that migrants have played and will continue to play in the future in this development effort. This means creation of jobs for all living in Cyprus irrespective of their country of origin.

The escalation of the economic crisis during the past year has brought migrants third country nationals to a very difficult position since the shrinkage of the economy along with the demagoguery of the presidential candidates and their support groups have produced a very dangerous climate. Moreover, in view of the economic crisis, there is an attempt to violate the legal framework for human rights and the right to equal treatment as it is regulated by the European acquis. Unfortunately, the racist and xenophobic discourse that has been dominant in recent years is also being used and has been embedded in the presidential campaigns discourse of the candidates and their support groups in the upcoming elections of 2013.

Cyprus is the only country in the European Union where migrants living and working legally have no equal access to healthcare and social rights. It is populism at its worst when, for the sake of their campaigns, some presidential candidates declare that they will eliminate rights that this country has never granted despite its legal obligation to do so. We are concerned that the oversimplification and continuous rhetoric about as the so-called “super privileges” of different isolated and vulnerable social groups. as in the case of the [welfare] “benefits”, will seriously undermine free health care generally and is the prologue to its possible privatization in the future.

KISA urges the Republic of Cyprus:

  • To re-examine and create a comprehensive migration policy on the basis of equal treatment of each person and the respect of human rights
  • To proceed to signing and ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
  • To proceed to signing and ratifying the International Convention of the Council of Europe on the participation of immigrants in public life at local level.
  • To proceed to signing and ratifying the International Convention of the International Labour Organization for the Rights of Domestic Workers