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NGO calls for change to ‘inadequate’ asylum seeker allowances

Non-governmental organisation Cyprus Stop Trafficking has sent an open letter to the President and the Cabinet, which was published on Tuesday, complaining about the inadequate allowance for asylum seekers in the country.

The letter, signed by honorary head of the organisation Androulla Christofidou Henriques, says that under the 2013 regulations applicants receive “a totally inadequate amount of money for housing and food vouchers”.

Now, the NGO went on, in 2018 conditions on the island have improved and these regulations seem racist and inhumane because they force asylum seekers to live in unacceptable conditions. Many, who cannot find a room to rent for €100 a month, camp in the Nicosia public gardens.

“We are tired of looking for apartments costing €200 a month to house a family with three children, to buy baby clothes, to help out with the rent and pay bills,” the letter said, calling on those responsible to find a solution to the problem.

In a second letter, to the head of the committee on human rights MP Stella Kyriakidou, Cyprus Stop Trafficking urged her to address the problems effectively, reiterating the allowances are “totally inadequate”.

A single person gets just €320 per month from the welfare office – €150 for food and clothes, €70 for small expenses and €100 for housing.

In comparison, Cypriots, other EU nationals and acknowledged refugees enrolled on the national minimum guaranteed income scheme receive €760 per person per month.

According to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), few asylum seekers even bother to apply for the meagre amount of money which the government offers as social assistance. Data from the welfare office shows that only about 20 per cent of asylum seekers living outside reception centres presently receive state social assistance.

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