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Cyprus bracing itself for possible influx of Lebanese fleeing their country
2006-07-26 16:15:19

Nicosia Jul 26 (CNA) -- Cyprus is calling for a ceasefire in Lebanon and is bracing itself to tackle a possible influx of Lebanese fleeing their country, a situation which would be averted if an end was put to hostilities.

''The possible influx of Lebanese citizens to Cyprus will depend on the continuation of hostilities or not and from the presence of the necessary humanitarian help to support the population,'' Cypriot Minister of the Interior Andreas Christou said, adding that ''we are taking the necessary measures and making preparations to face such an eventuality.''

Christou reiterated that Cyprus does not have the capacity to accommodate thousands of refugees fleeing Lebanon. ''We have stated to the representatives of the EU that Cyprus does not have the infrastructure for a long accommodation of refugees,'' he said.

''We can cope up with a wave of 8,000 people daily without particular difficulties and with the assistance of other European countries to transfer them to countries where they can find better conditions, either because these countries are larger or these are the countries of their origin,'' Christou added, noting that a total of 100,000 people of European origin are still in Lebanon.

The Cypriot Minister noted however the ''primary concern at this hour should be to make sure that the biggest possible humanitarian aid is sent to Lebanon, and the achievement of a ceasefire and peace in the region.''

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