All Ministries in Cyprus are alert, vigilant and ready, so that if and when necessary, Cyprus can become a centre for hosting foreign nationals who want to be repatriated, Minister of Interior Konstantinos Ioannou said on Saturday, referring to the situation in the Middle East.

In statements in Paphos, Ioannou said that “it is not only the Ministry of the Interior but various Ministries that are involved in this, we are alert and vigilant and there is readiness if and when necessary for Cyprus to become a centre for hosting third country nationals who want to be repatriated.”

Ioannou, who was asked to comment on the statements of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, regarding the role of Cyprus as a humanitarian route to Gaza, said that the President of the Republic, Nikos Christodoulides, has expressed the will of Cyprus to become a humanitarian route, reiterating that the role of Cyprus is important.

He also pointed out that the infrastructure is there, the staff is there and we will fulfill our role.

Asked what Cyprus’ capabilities are in terms of numbers in case the situation deteriorates, Ioannou said that we have no indication of numbers but for whatever is needed, as we have proven in the past, there is readiness.

He explained that if requited Cyprus will serve a transit hub of third country nationals who will have to be evacuated and will stay in Cyprus for a few hours before they return to their country.

He also said that Cyprus has asked for the assistance of the European Union in case the numbers are not manageable. “So depending on the circumstances we will act,” he added.

Asked whether Cyprus has requested assistance at the European level in case there is an increase in the flow of migrants, Ioannou said that there is the possibility of an increase in the flow of migrants, especially if Lebanon and Syria get involved in the conflict, adding that in such a case all of Europe will expect an increase in migratory flows.

Beyond that, Ioannou said, “our capacities are limited and if we are called upon to handle the corresponding numbers we expect help, not only financial help and technical assistance, but also assistance on resettlement issues by the EU,” he concluded.

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