Roma's mobility and internal migration

AuthorChryso Pelekani, Loizos Symeou
Historical framework
With the outbreak of intercommunal clashes in 1963 between ethnic Greek Cypriots (G/C)
and ethnic Turkish Cypriots (T/C),17 some Cy priot Roma chose to become part of the T/C
community. According to the 1960 Constitution of the RoC, the Cypriot Roma are
recognised as members of the T/C community, with all the legal ramifications that
recognition imparts.
After the country of Turkey invaded the North of Cyprus in 1974, many Cypriot Roma were
forcibly expelled into the occupied territory; some settled near the village of Dikomo
(Greek: ; Turkish: Dikmen), while others settled in other occupied provinces such
as Nicosia, Morphou and Famagusta.18 However, once freedom o f movement was
reinstated in 2003, ethnic T/C and Roma chose to move away from the North en masse.19
Due to the changing social conditions in the 1990s, the T/C authorities, particularly local
authorities, had demolished many Romani settlements in the occupied areas, and after
1994 the Roma experienced a very severe economic crisis there.20 Because of the adverse
conditions and the practices of discrimination experienced by many Roma, they moved
south. In October 1997, about 20 Roma families moved from the northern occupied
territory to the R oC in the south, while others emigrated to England seeking political
asylum.21 Their emigrations continued for years afterward, and as a result of their growing
demand for asylum in other cou ntries, the T/C authorities began preventing their
emigration abroad.22 Those who crossed the Green Line and moved to the RoC settled in
houses that had previously been owned by et hnic T /C, mainly in Limassol and Paphos.
Even though many Roma also moved to other towns and villages, they remain isolated
and marginalised nowadays from the rest of the community.
As for the Cypriot Roma who are native to the South, before Turkish invasion in 1974,
they had been accustomed to living nomadically. From October 1999, and especially during
and after 2001, approximately 570 Roma also relocated to Limassol and Paphos and
settled in socioeconomically deprived urban areas (Spyrou, 2004). Because the Interior
Ministry could not host all the Roma families in the empty formerly T/C-owned properties,
and because they needed to add ress the housing situation of the Roma, the government
financed the building of a small village of 16 prefabricated houses in Limassol and 20 in
Paphos. They also refurbished the existing ethnic T/C-owned residences in both of those
18 Dayıoğlu, A. (2014) Kuzey Kıbrıs'ın ötekileri; Rumlar, Maruniler, Romanlar, Aleviler, Kürtler. Istanbul
Bilgi Üniversitesi Yayınları, Istanbul.
19 Trimikliniotis, σ. & Demetriou, C. (2009) ΟThe Cypriot Roma and the Failure of Education: Anti-
Discrimination and Multiculturalism as a Post-accession ChallengeΠ, in: σ. Coureas & C. Demetriou (eds.) The
Minorities of Cyprus: Development Patterns and the Identity of the Internal-Exclusion. Cambridge Scholars
Publishing, Cambridge.
20 Dayıoğlu, A. (2014) Kuzey Kıbrıs'ın ötekileri; Rumlar, Maruniler, Romanlar, Aleviler, Kürtler. Istanbul
Bilgi Üniversitesi Yayınları, Istanbul.
21 Ibid., p. 108. & Williams, A. (2000) The Gypsies of Cyprus, Kuri, Available at: (Retrieved on 2 December 2019)
22 For example, Turkish Airlines and Istanbul Airlines since 1997 would not accept Roma to travel with
their company in order to relocation abroad seeking political asylum. Ibid., p. 109.

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