Cyprus is ready to handle the influx of foreign nationals if war breaks out in Syria, according to Foreign Ministry Consular Affairs Department Head Stavros Avgoustides.

In statements to Cyprus News Agency (CNA), Avgoustides said so far, there has not been any response to yesterday’s travel advice to all Cypriot citizens who reside or visit Syria to leave the country immediately, in light of the deteriorating situation.

“We are ready”, he said, pointing out everything is laid out on paper. We have to see in practice how we will manage. We are hopeful that there will not be any problem”, he added.

Avgoustides said there are about 50 Cypriots in mixed marriages in Syria and around one thousand in Lebanon. “We will help towards the repatriation of any citizen, wherever that citizen is and we will make any arrangements necessary to bring them back”, he added.

Asked if there is a possibility for Syrian nationals to come to Cyprus, Avgoustides said he did not believe so since for practical reasons they will choose to cross by land over to Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. However, he did not rule out Syrian nationals coming to Cyprus from the coastal parts of the country. “We will monitor the situation”, he said.

Regarding foreign nationals who might be evacuating the area, Avgoustides said there is a large number of them in Lebanon. “If the war is such that it will force people to evacuate, then we will be ready to welcome them, accommodate them for 48 hours until they are finally repatriated to their countries of origin”.

Stressing that meetings continue to be held at the ministry to coordinate the situation, Avgoustides said that the national ESTIA plan provides for the repatriation of Cypriots and the evacuation of European citizens as well as third country nationals, including citizens from the US, Australia, Canada, even Russia or Kuwait, noting this is a humanitarian issue.

Entry points for foreign nationals will be Larnaca and Limassol ports as well as the two international airports in Larnaca and Paphos while the site of the old Larnaca International Airport will be used for accommodation purposes.

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