AuthorChryso Pelekani, Loizos Symeou
As mentioned in the first and second RCM reports on Cyprus,7 there is no accurate number
of Roma living in the country.8 According to the Council of Europe estimates from 2012,
the number of Roma is about 1,250, i.e. , 0.11 % of the overall population. 9 The National
Integration Strategy (NRIS) est imates that some 650- 700 Cypriot Roma currently live in
areas controlled by the Republic of Cyprus (RoC).10 There are also Roma from other
countries living in Cyprus, mainly from Eastern Europe, but their number is not officially
known either. According to the 1960 Constitution of Cyprus, Cypriot Roma are recognised
as members of the Turkish Cypriot (T/C) community, unlike the other minority groups
living in Cyprus (Maronites, Latins, and Armenians) who are recognised as religious
minorities. The Cypriot Roma are therefore not recognised or granted their own minority
status as Roma.
The Turkish invasion of 1974 had a devastating impact on Cyprus’s demographic
situation. In that year, approximately 142,000 Greek Cypriots nearly one-third of the
then-total Greek Cypriot population of the island were forcibly expelled from the northern
part of the island where they constituted some 80 per cent of the population. Turkish
Cypriots as well as Roma we re then forcibly expelled to the occupied area in the n orth,
although a few hundred Turkish Cypriots and Roma remained in the south.11
There are no official records ab out the arrival of Roma in Cyprus. It is be lieved that they
arrived after the conquest of the island by the Ottomans in 1551. The term Gurbet, used
as autoethnonym, has its origin in Arabic and reached t he Romani language through t he
Turkish language. It means ΟforeignersΠ or Οforeign workΠ. These people today are εuslims
and speak both the Cypriot Turkish dialect and Gurbetcha (a language variety). Most
Cypriot Roma in the RoC live in Limassol and Paphos. In the occupied areas they live
mainly in Famagusta and Morphou.
In the current report, three different topics are analysed that have not been discussed in
any of the previous reports. This report focuses first on gender equality, on the position of
Roma women in the wider society, and on actions by Roma women aiming at achieving
their em powerment; second, on the domestic migration of the Cypriot Roma in Cyprus
and their emigration abroad; and third, on drug distribution and use by the Cypriot Roma
The report was prepared by analysing several sources of information, including legal
documents, reports, published studies, journals, previous official reports, and published
case studies. In addition, 12 interviews were conducted with public authorities and
representatives of Cypriot Roma (the CYPROM organisation). Furthermore, the report
7 The first annual cycle of the Roma Civil Monitor (RCM) was focused on the horizontal precondition of the
Roma inclusion governance, fight against antigypsyism and anti-discrimination. The second cycle concerned
the four key policy fields education, employment, healthcare and housing. All reports are available at:
8 In this report, any reference to ΟCyprusΠ applies to the Republic of Cyprus and all information and data
contained in this report concern the Republic of Cyprus and areas controlled by its government.
9 Roma Integration in Cyprus. Available at:
(Retrieved on 21 April 2020)
10 Policy Measures of Cyprus for the Social Inclusion of Roma, 6 June 2017, available at: (Retrieved on 21 January 2019)
11 EURYDICE Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions,
and-religions-15_en (Retrieved on 20 April 2020)

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