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15 April, 2024
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Cyprus: A beacon of hope in the Middle East crisis

From humanitarian corridors to diplomatic bridges – How a small island makes a big impact

Athanasios Ellis

Athanasios Ellis

Cyprus is playing a pivotal role in Western efforts to deal with the crisis in the Middle East; its added value stems not from its military power, but rather from its geographic location, its membership in the European Union, and its excellent relations with all the regional actors.

The Cyprus-initiated joint multinational plan to open up a humanitarian aid corridor for Gaza is a welcome initiative embraced by the United States and the EU.

Nicosia drew up an operational plan, known as the Amalthea Initiative, which comes as a necessary response to the dire humanitarian situation in the war-ravaged Palestinian enclave.

A maritime corridor, with Cyprus as its integral part, has broad support – from the EU and the US to the United Arab Emirates – but it’s obviously a complex operation where not all the interests of the parties involved are necessarily identical.

But if the plan is successful, it will go a long way toward ameliorating the living conditions of innocent civilians at a time when hospitals in northern Gaza are already reporting children dying of malnutrition.

On the practical side, the aid – food, water and medicines – will be transported to Cyprus and stored in specific facilities, mainly in the port of Larnaca. After inspection in coordination with Israel, the aid will be transported to Gaza and delivered to the people who need it.

As the effort unfolds, the US military will be building a temporary platform to expedite the delivery of necessities. However, it could take weeks for the pier to get up and running.

In any case, while negotiations on a possible ceasefire remain deadlocked, and the United Nations is warning of famine among the 2.3 million living in Gaza, Cyprus is again part of a solution.

Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides described his country as “the lighthouse of the European Union in this important and challenging region. This is the unique perspective that Cyprus brings to the EU. The Middle East is also Europe’s neighborhood, and it is a crucial one where Europe’s role and leadership are required.”

This is not the first time the small Mediterranean nation has played a crucial part in dealing with the repercussions of conflict in the region. In the summer of 2006, more than 15,000 Americans were evacuated from war-torn Lebanon, many of them through Cyprus.

Cyprus  |  Gaza  |  Israel  |  humanitarian aid

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