31 December 2011 |

Cyprus: Internal displacement in brief

As of December 2011

 

In 1974 groups backed by Greece’s military junta ousted the Cypriot leader and Turkey sent troops to the island in response. The overwhelming majority of Greek Cypriots fled to the south, while most Turkish Cypriots fled to the north. The island has since been effectively divided between areas under the control of the government of the Republic of Cyprus (GRC) and the authorities of the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (TRNC), which is recognised only by Turkey. The conflict is still unresolved and the return of IDPs to their original homes remains largely impossible.

The TRNC maintains that there are no IDPs in areas under its control, and that internal displacement ended with a 1975 agreement resulting in significant population exchange. Meanwhile, the GRC reported at the end of 2011 that around 208,000 people in the area under its control had displaced person status, including over 86,000 people born to people with the status. Discrimination in access to the status partially ended in 2011, as the children of women with displaced person status became eligible for more of the same benefits as children of men with the status.

The Immovable Property Commission (IPC) set up in TRNC had, by the end of 2011, ruled on over 200 of some 2,800 applications by dispossessed people. Most claimants accepted compensation, of which $100 million had been paid out since 2006. Towards the end of the year the IPC announced it would extend the application deadline until the end of 2013. While the European Court of Human Rights found the IPC provided an effective remedy, the GRC continued to reject its legitimacy. 

In its 2011 report on human rights in Cyprus, OHCHR cited as obstacles to durable solutions for IDPs the limited freedom of movement and choice of residence, and the lack of an agreed mechanism to restore property rights.