With arrivals on the rise and only one First Reception Centre (FRC), Cyprus’ migration management system has been under a lot of strain. To address the situation, the European Commission partnered with the Cypriot authorities and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and is now financing large-scale upgrades in the Pournara FRC in Cyprus’ Nicosia District. € 22 million were made available from the 2021-2027 Asylum Migration and Integration Fund. The Deputy Director-General of DG HOME, Beate Gminder, visited the site on 7 July to assess the progress achieved in enhancing first reception capacity on the island.
Enhancing first reception infrastructure and improving procedures
The FRC of Pournara is the country’s only centre to host and carry out first reception procedures including screening, identification and registration of migrants arriving irregularly. Given the marked increase in arrivals, the Centre has been overcrowded in recent years. With an official capacity of less than 1,000 people, it hosted approximatively 2,000 persons in November 2022, including 300 unaccompanied minors requiring special care.
The Cypriot authorities, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs, and the International Organization for Migration joined forces to expedite improvements of living conditions in Pournara FRC and to put in place infrastructural upgrades for the swift implementation of first reception procedures, agreed in 2020.
Protection, sustainability, and safety
The blueprint for the centre’s upgrade foresees the extensive renovation of the first reception procedures’ area, a substantial increase in accommodation capacity with 1,184 additional places, and the development of adequate quarantine areas. These far-reaching construction works are developed around three main objectives: protection mainstreaming, environmental sustainability, and safety measures.
The construction plan ensures: the protection of hosted populations with respect to age, gender, and vulnerability criteria; the use of environmentally friendly materials that guarantee the sustainable and long-term functioning of the facilities and lead to more safety and security for residents and employees.
Tackling the complex issue of reception
After 2020, an unprecedented number of arrivals was putting strain on the national reception system. This had extensive implications not only for the Pournara FRC, but also for asylum seekers searching for accommodation and housing on the island.
Alongside the reconstruction of Pournara’s FRC, the Commission granted Cyprus approximatively € 67 million, including for the construction of a new second-line reception centre in Limnes, where international protection applicants will be accommodated. Expected by 2025, the new centre will add 1,000 places to the national reception capacity. Moreover, upgrades in the Kofinou Reception Centre, ensuring high quality capacity for 150 residents in over 70 units, were financed by the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA). The new facility was inaugurated on 6 July.
By addressing the issue of reception capacity in Cyprus, these flagship Eastern Mediterranean projects underline the centrality of safe and dignified reception in a sustainable and future-proof migration management system.
- Publication date
- 11 July 2023
- Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs