17 Organizations demand the adoption of the Refugee Law in North Cyprus

17 organizations in the TRNC have called for a “Refugee Law” that includes access to fair and effective processes for the treatment of refugees in line with human rights and refugee law standards.

The 17 organizations made a joint statement in Turkish, English and Arabic at a press conference held at the Refugee Rights Association on Friday, June, 18 on the occasion of June, 20 World Refugee Day.

In the statement, it was pointed out that the difficult living conditions with the pandemic affected many people in negative ways.

It was stated that people were adversely affected in accessing their economic, social, health and education rights due to the global epidemic.

“While this situation brought difficult conditions for everyone, this situation affected some segments more deeply. It is important to remember that on the occasion of World Refugee Day, refugees face these obstacles and challenges more intensely as they are compelled to leave their homes in search of protection from wars and persecution.

Since the hope of establishing a new life and nurturing in a new environment is often a difficult process for refugees; Ensuring meaningful and sustainable access to basic human rights is of paramount importance. It is important to remember that we can only overcome these crises by remembering the power of inclusion and involving people from all walks of life in our society. We have witnessed that being in solidarity during these difficult times empowers us and, if given the opportunity, can contribute to the building of a more inclusive world for people who have had to flee their countries. Thus, with solidarity, the world can become a more just and livable place.”

Stating that they were with refugees, the organizations stated as follows:

Refugees should not be sent back to risky countries”

“Refugees should not be sent back to countries where their lives and freedoms are at risk, and their international protection needs should be assessed in line with the principle of non-refoulement.

“Asylum is a fundamental right”

The right to seek and enjoy asylum is a fundamental right. In this context, it is necessary to amend Chapter 105 Law on Aliens and Immigration in accordance with these rights and to respect the principles of non-refoulement and non-punishment, including at least at the border, for the determination of status and protection needs and for the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in accordance with human rights and refugee law standards, in a fair and effective manner. We demand the adoption of a Refugee Law that includes access to processes.

It is not a crime to seek asylum, and for those fleeing war and persecution, entering a country undocumented and irregularly does not invalidate the universal human right to seek asylum.

The rights to liberty and security of the person are fundamental human rights. Since seeking asylum is not an illegal act, detention of asylum seekers should be avoided because it violates their basic human rights, and alternative places of asylum should be developed when necessary. Detention of children should never be carried out because it is not in the best interests of the child.

In the context of Covid-19, securing public health and protecting refugees are not mutually exclusive and opposing actions. Refugees should be included in all aspects of security measures such as vaccination programs in the health field and access to multilingual information should be guaranteed.

“Brave steps must be taken”

Bold steps such as policies, laws, roadmap or action plan must be taken and implemented in the fight against racism and xenophobia, which unfortunately is increasing worldwide, including in the northern part of Cyprus.

It is crucial that refugees and asylum seekers living in the northern part of Cyprus have meaningful access to employment, including permanent residency, occupations, language and vocational training programmes. We urge local authorities to step up their efforts to help refugees integrate and contribute to society.

It is also important to note that refugees and asylum seekers should have access to all available social assistance or welfare programs in line with their needs.”

In the statement, which stated that the common experience of the pandemic clearly reveals that everyone has an important role in keeping each other safe, it was noted that when given the opportunity, refugees can also contribute to creating a stronger, safer and more diverse society.

The organizations that signed the statement, "As members of Turkish Cypriot civil society, we are ready to take steps to succeed, heal, learn and shine together with refugees" are as follows:

“European Mediterranean Art Association (EMAA), Revolutionary Trade Unions Federation (DEV-İŞ), Universal Child Rights Association (EÇHD), Universal Patient Rights Association (EHHD), Cyprus Turkish Bar Association (KTBB), Turkish Cypriot Human Rights Foundation (KTIHV) ), Cyprus Turkish Union of Chambers of Engineers and Architects (KTMMOB), Cyprus Turkish Secondary Education Teachers' Union (KTOEÖS), Cyprus Turkish Teachers' Union (KTÖS), Queer Cyprus Association, Nicosia Turkish Municipality (LTB), Refugee Rights Association (MHD), Mesarya Women's Initiative, Civil Society Initiative, SOS Children's Village Association, Third Community Forum, VOIS (Voices of International Students) Cyprus.

Source: Yeniduzen

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