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14 July, 2024
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Cyprus gears up for potential Middle East evacuations of over 100,000 people

The country is preparing for the unthinkable in the face of Middle East conflict


Cyprus is actively preparing for potential large-scale evacuations of citizens from various nationalities in the Middle East, particularly Israel, Lebanon, and the broader region, following the recent conflict outbreak in the Middle East. The Cypriot authorities have information indicating that more than 100,000 people from various states may need evacuation. The preparations are extensive and involve diplomatic and operational efforts.

Diplomatic sources have emphasized that Cyprus will be a transit point for evacuees and not their final destination. There are groups from 19 states cooperating with Cypriot authorities in two key locations: the Coordinating Center "Zenon" in Larnaka and the "Andreas Papandreou" airbase in Pafos. These efforts are geared towards a worst-case scenario evacuation, although it is not certain that such a massive operation will be required.

Since October 7, Cyprus has hosted 1,188 people from 33 nationalities as part of the "Estia" plan. The majority of these individuals have already left Cyprus, with the remainder either having EU citizenship, family connections, or places to stay on the island. Cyprus is actively communicating with parties involved in the Middle East crisis to emphasize the need for de-escalation, continuous humanitarian aid to Gaza, and a political horizon that leads to dialogue based on a two-state solution, as per the UN Security Council's determination.

Nicosia's proposal to establish a humanitarian corridor from Cyprus to Gaza is under discussion, with Israel expressing a willingness to explore this possibility. Cyprus is coordinating these efforts with friendly nations and will discuss the proposal during meetings with Jordan. The focus is on reinforcing the provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza, utilizing Cyprus's geographical position and resources. The establishment of the corridor will require broad international support and the involvement of organizations like the UN, addressing logistical issues related to aid distribution.

Regarding refugee flows, Cyprus distinguishes this as a separate issue, and any refugee arrivals will occur via the sea outside the evacuation mechanism's scope. A significant number of refugees are currently in Lebanon.

Cyprus  |  Israel  |  Lebanon  |  conflict

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