Verhaal, 19 mei 2022

Years of uncertainty about asylum application: 'I try to switch off my feelings. It's too hard.'

Cyprus heef te maken met tienduizenden vluchtelingen en slechts een handvol organisaties die zich voor hen inzetten. Zij doen wat te kunnen, maar met 18.000 asielaanvragen en slechts vier asieladvocaten op het eiland, is dit praktisch een onbegonnen zaak. Over de voortgang van hun asielprocedure horen vluchtelingen bijna niks, en soms moeten ze jaren wachten in onzekerheid. Franklin uit Kameroen is een van hen.

Franklin is 23. He ended up in Cyprus when he was 19, fleeing the violence in his homeland, where separatists and the government army were fighting each other in a bloody civil war. ‘If you went to school, you had a good chance of ending up dead.’

Escaping the war

‘A bullet could come from anywhere’, Franklin says, ‘many teachers were killed. I wanted to leave. When I met someone who said he could get me to Cyprus so I could study there, I decided to go for it. Even though I’d never heard of Cyprus before.’

Asking for help

‘When I first arrived I slept on a hotel room floor. The bed was occupied by the guy who had promised to help me. He left 3 days later and said I had to sort it out myself. I decided to go to the school where he’d arranged for me to study, but the tuition hadn’t been paid and I had no money.

I struck up a conversation with some guys who invited me to live with them. They advised me to apply for asylum so I could get help. So that’s what I did. And although I received financial support from the government, I never heard anything about my asylum application again. That was three years ago now.’

Trying to survive

‘In the meantime, I try to survive by doing all kinds of odd jobs, buying and reselling stuff and looking for a job. Some time ago, the government benefits suddenly stopped. I didn't have enough money to pay my rent anymore and ended up on the street, where I lived for a month. Fortunately, I now have a roof over my head, thanks to one of the guys who’d helped me before.’

Switching off feelings

‘The status of my asylum application has been unknown for years. I've enquired about it, but all I'm told is to be patient.’

I can't go anywhere. Worrying isn't going to fix the situation, so I do that as little as possible. I try to switch off my feelings. It's too hard

Franklin from Cameroon

What does Dutch Council for Refugees do?

We are working with our local partner the Cyprus Refugee Council (CYRC) to improve the situation for refugees and asylum seekers. One of our initiatives, the Enhancing Digital Infrastructure project, focuses on collecting and processing information more quickly. By analysing this data, the CYRC can work more efficiently and effectively, and better help its target group.

Stay up-to-date on our international activities

Subscribe to our international newsletter for the latest updates on our work, stories and international projects.

Yes, I’d like to stay up-to-date