IOM Maintains COVID-19 Support for Vulnerable Migrant Communities in Cyprus

The number of COVID-19 case in Cyprus has dropped over the past three weeks (837 confirmed cases and 15 deaths overall) but the risk of infection persists among the most vulnerable communities on the island due to overcrowded living conditions, challenges in accessing basic services such as health, as well as communication barriers.

Despite non-nationals accounting for 6 per cent of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Cyprus, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is maintaining vigilance and its commitment to supporting the most vulnerable communities on the island.

“Efforts to support all vulnerable groups, including migrants and unaccompanied children, are much needed to minimize hardship and reduce risks to public health,” said Natasa Xenophontos Koudouna, Head of IOM’s office in Cyprus.

“IOM’s work is centred on ensuring the safety of communities and upholding the human rights for all,” she explained.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, IOM has been working in coordination with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Interior to ensure that the most vulnerable, including migrants and refugees, have access to needed health assistance, regardless of their status.

“We have adapted our operations very quickly to the situation in order to help protect the most vulnerable people against COVID-19,” said Xenophontos Koudouna.

“We are providing food and supplies to those in need and we are ensuring that everyone has access to information and basic services.”

As part of its response to COVID-19, IOM has been providing support to migrants awaiting voluntary return assistance, Including food, clothes, hygiene items, and accommodation arrangements, as well as provision of much needed hygiene items to unaccompanied children moving from camps to independent living through the IOM programme launched earlier this month.

IOM has also worked together with local authorities, NGOs and UN agencies COVID-19 information provision and the translation of social distancing measures adopted by the government in more than two dozen languages.