We are preparing for possible rapid increase in arrivals from Israel, FM says
14:54 - 18 October 2023
A total of 1,083 people have arrived in Cyprus from Israel so far, with 871 having already departed while temporary residency has been granted to 182 with these requests increasing daily, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Constantinos Kombos said, noting that they were preparing for a possible rapid increase in numbers.
Briefing journalists, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about the situation and how the Republic of Cyprus is dealing with the crisis as part of the region, Kombos said that the Republic of Cyprus agrees that time should be given for diplomacy and dialogue, initially to de-escalate the tension and then to gradually open the political horizon for a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East, while emphasising that humanitarian aid must be reinforced, warning that, otherwise would mean “a humanitarian disaster” that could lead to a regional flare-up.
The Foreign Minister said that, after Hamas’ terrorist attacks, developments have rapidly evolved, and that the depth and intensity of the crisis are such that create risks of regional expansion and flare-up.
He noted that Israel has the right to self-defence, “within the limits set by International Law and International Humanitarian Law”, and noted that the loss of so many civilian lives from the strikes on Al Ahli hospital “was absolutely condemnable.”
Referring to the Special National Plan ESTIA, he said that, its activation and implementation highlighted once again the role of the Republic of Cyprus as a safe harbour in cases of crisis.
Noting that the figures were constantly changing he said that so far 1,083 people arrived on 15 flights and two arrivals by sea, of which 871 have departed, while temporary residency has been granted to 182, with these requests increasing daily. So far, he said, people from 37 different countries have passed through Cyprus, and that 14 foreign missions are at the ZENON Coordination Center, in Larnaca, where they are cooperating with the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus for these procedures.
Kombos said that that there was great possibility, in the event of an extension of the crisis, that these numbers would be much larger. He recalled that in the case of the evacuations from Sudan, a total of 2,611 had arrived to Cyprus.
He noted that his Ministry was in constant contact with the competent Ministries of Defence, Interior, Justice, Health, Transport and that they monitor developments as they evolve in the coming hours and days and adjust the planning accordingly.
The Minister of Defence, Michalis Giorgallas, who participated in the briefing, said that his Ministry was aligned with the provisions of the ESTIA Plan and was in cooperation with the other co-competent services and Ministries “in order to do our best”, in facilitating foreign nationals who are currently fleeing from the area of hostilities.
He added that, having in mind that there is a possibility that the numbers will increase, they were monitoring developments in order to be ready to welcome larger numbers of people.
Kombos, referring to the approach of the Republic of Cyprus to this crisis, said that it was guided by stable principled positions while any events that may occur were approached through these principled positions.
“Hamas' heinous terrorist attacks are condemned unequivocally and it is our basic principle that terrorism and brutality have neither justification nor place anywhere,” he said, noting that Israel has the right to self-defence, “within the limits set by the International Law and International Humanitarian Law”. Noting that the responsible exercise of this right was also a clear position of the EU, he said that the loss of so many civilian lives, from the strikes at Al Ahli hospital was “absolutely condemnable.” International Humanitarian Law, he noted, “expressly prohibits attacking medical facilities and infrastructure”.
He also said that the Republic of Cyprus agrees that time should be given for diplomacy and dialogue, initially to de-escalate the tension and then to gradually open the political horizon for a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East, based on the two states. “This should be the ultimate goal, even if, at the moment, the priorities concern the non-expansion of the crisis,” Kombos said. In this direction, he added, both the President of the Republic, as well as himself, hold daily contacts with their counterparts and convey these exact messages to them.
He said that they also emphasise that humanitarian aid must be reinforced, warning that, otherwise, would mean “a humanitarian disaster” that could lead to a regional flare-up. Kombos said that they supported this position at EU level and constantly emphasise that the Republic of Cyprus was ready to actively contribute towards this, in cooperation with the international community.