Lebanon’s experience is focus of crisis management seminar
Nicosia, Feb 13 – The Lebanon crisis in the summer of 2006, the mobilization of the Cypriot Government and the experience gained from it are topics under discussion at today’s seminar organized by the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Around 50 representatives of crisis management teams from European Union member states and representatives of the European Commission are participating in the seminar. They will exchange their experiences in a bid to create a common policy to deal with crises.
Cyprus helped thousands of people fleeing Lebanon, during the recent crisis. A large number of foreign nationals were in Cyprus before departing for their countries.
In his address, Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, Ambassador Alexandros Zenon, said that Cyprus helped in the Lebanon crisis in numerous different ways, ranging from offering logistical assistance, accommodation and shelter to providing food, transportation, medical care and welfare aid.
“Having ourselves suffered the consequences of the 1974 Turkish invasion and the continuing occupation of a large chunk of our territory, the general awareness and sensitivity of the people of Cyprus was well manifested during the Lebanon crisis,” he added.
From the beginning of the crisis in July 2006 and throughout its duration, he also said, “we made our emergency services and facilities available to the international community for the repatriation of foreign nationals from Lebanon.”
Furthermore, he noted that the Republic of Cyprus has also served as the base through which international humanitarian aid was channeled to the affected Lebanese areas. The facilities are currently being used by the international peacekeeping force in Lebanon.
“Almost 60,000 foreign nationals arrived in Cyprus for voluntary repatriation. More than 25,000 were nationals of EU member states, there were almost 24,000 North American and Australian nationals (US, Canada and Australia), 8,000 Lebanese (from the total of about 60,000, a sizeable percentage were dual nationals of Lebanon) and 1,700 Indians. In total, nationals of 114 countries were received and offered assistance in Cyprus.” he said.
He further underlined that Cyprus approached the whole issue not from a purely humanitarian point of view, noting that despite the fact that the financial burden of the whole operation was anything but negligible, the net cost can be estimated to be around 3.5 million euros, Cyprus never asked for any compensation or reward.