Nicosia, November 17, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Kyriacos Kyriacou
Some 20% of the Cypriot population is favourably predisposed towards refugees and migrants and this is a good starting point for increased interaction and dialogue between the local communities and the refugee and migrant communities, a report by UNHCR says.
The findings of the report title ““Perceptions matter – What do Cypriots think about refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants”,were made public Tuesday and they were based on a survey which was conducted during June 2015.
The study covered a representative sample of Greek and Turkish Cypriots, aged 18 years and over. The sample, consisting of 1,000 interviews, was distributed proportionately between urban and rural areas in all the districts of Cyprus.
According to a press release sent to the Media by UNHCR, there is a lot of work ahead in terms of raising awareness and dispelling myths pertaining to refugee and migration issues as well as in terms of supporting refugees in becoming part of the Cypriot society. To achieve this however, there needs to be a joint effort by authorities, civil society and the general public.
The survey, according to UNHCR Representation in Cyprus, revealed some very interesting findings as to what Cypriots from both communities think about refugees; their needs, the opportunities refugees have for becoming part of the Cypriot society, their contributions.
The opinion poll shows that while many Cypriots are conscious of what it takes to promote smooth integration, they also seem to be overly concerned about their demography and competition for jobs.
It would appear that most of the respondents based their answer on the false perception that there are too many refugees in Cyprus. Equally interesting and a source of concern for UNHCR was how Cypriots associate refugees and migrants with violence, criminality and to lesser extent with diseases.