Ever since the founding of VOIS, there have been numerous incoming complaints, from various international students, revolving around the negative experiences that students encounter within the Housing sector. Throughout the years, VOIS has committed to resolving individual cases brought to our attention by students that required our intervention as a mediatory body between them and their landlords. Similarly, we have dedicated our time and energy towards trying to enforce positive change within the housing sector on a systematic level. However, we are both saddened and disappointed to state that the problems that international students face within the housing sector in Northern Cyprus have been exponentially increasing year after year, despite the organization’s focused efforts to address the topic with the relevant bodies. Unfortunately, we have been incapable of attaining sustainable solutions through dialogue.
The severity of the situation requires the immediate attention of the general public. International students have been struggling to attain adequate living standards as they face issues that are inclusive of, but not limited to scamming practices, confiscation of deposits, unlawful evacuation, alongside racial discrimination and xenophobia imposed by landlords. We remind our audience that attaining an adequate standard of living that is inclusive of housing is a human right that falls under article 25.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights (UDHR). It is infuriating that there are no proper structures to monitor and regulate the violations taking place within the housing sector which international students often fall victim to.
Moreover, the current price inflation has left many students stranded and incapable of attaining adequate living standards. It is without a doubt that the pandemic has affected everyone on a socio-economic level, however, international students have been particularly negatively affected and many students are left financially stranded without any support. In addition to that, some landlords have utilized those dire times to financially benefit themselves; VOIS has received numerous complaints from students stating that there has been an unrealistic and unreasonable increase of rent prices that were enforced by their landlords, which is disproportionate to the increase of prices imposed on the local community. Moreover, international students are forced to pay in foreign currency in many cases which is particularly challenging, given the increasing rate and instability of the foreign currencies. The average international student is left with limited options to sustain his/her/themself, given the increasing price rates of houses and lack of job opportunities that would provide secondary income for students. We re-emphasize that the lack of proper supervision by the authorities has enabled and reinforced those unbearable conditions and we foresee a fluctuation of homelessness alongside an increase in crime rate if the current situation is not properly managed.
In efforts to tackle the many housing issues that international students face in the TRNC, VOIS has dedicated a part of THE GAP project, which is funded by the EU and co-funded by the US Embassy, to focus solely on the prevalent issues within the Housing sector and we shall continue to support our fellow international students in this aspect to the best of our capabilities. We take this opportunity to recommend and publicly request the establishment of a single body responsible for monitoring, regulating, and tackling the many issues within the housing sector that were stated previously. Lastly, we demand focused intervention and stronger supervision from the authorities in all matters related to housing. We sincerely hope that there comes a time when international students are not valued for their economic input and rather seen for their humanity.
Stay safe by staying home #COVID19 #EvdeKal #StayHome