Cyprus rescuers not wanted by Turkey

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A Cyprus rescue team on standby to be flown to Turkey’s earthquake disaster zone has been told they are not needed, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.

The Foreign Ministry posted on its Twitter account: “Despite initial acceptance of our offer to assist in rescue efforts, Turkiye has ‘kindly declined’ Cyprus’ offer to deploy a Search & Rescue team on the ground.

“Proud & grateful for our Civil Protection Rescuers, always ready to save lives everywhere

“Offer still stands!”

A 17-member rescue mission was given the green light to fly to Turkey through the EU response mechanism but was later told to stand down.

Asked about the last-minute cancellation, Civil Defence spokesperson Panayiotis Liassides said, “We had placed our team, which was certified last December by the United Nations’ INSARAG, at the disposal of Turkey.”

At first, the offer was accepted, he said.

“We had started the process for our mission, and finally, Thursday afternoon, we saw an entry in the communication system that the mission was being stopped because the idea of Cyprus going to Turkey had been rejected.

“We see the matter from a humanitarian point of view; we will continue to be fully prepared and respond whenever necessary.

“We will continue to train; nothing changes for us,” said Liassides.

When asked whether the mission could go to Syria instead of Turkey, Liassides replied, “we don’t know that.”

“If there is a need, a request through the European Civil Protection Mechanism and the state decides so, we will see,” he said and noted, “we are ready to deploy whenever we are asked to go.”

Cyprus has started a national appeal for humanitarian aid for Turkey and Syria, operating 26 collection points until 17 February.

House speaker Annita Demetriou said: “The least we can do is to support our fellow human beings, to become a strong chain of humanity and solidarity for people in need.

“We are truly shocked by the images and the human suffering, which knows no borders, and everything happening in Turkey and Syria.

“We will be there to support every attempt to send humanitarian aid as Cyprus does every time.”