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Cyprus, Lebanon agree on migration curbs

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Cyprus and Lebanon agreed on more effective measures to manage irregular migration across the Eastern Mediterranean.

The agreement was reached during Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou’s visit to the neighbouring country.

According to an official statement, the two countries agreed to create a working group at a technical level to coordinate and undertake measures to manage migration flows and create a network of Lebanon-Cyprus contact points for the exchange of information and closer cooperation to prevent irregular flows, including joint patrols.

The minister went to Lebanon for contacts with the political leadership and Lebanese authorities to jointly work out solutions to deal with the sea migration flows in Eastern Mediterranean.

Ioannou met Lebanon Prime Minister Najib Azmi Mikati, his counterpart Bassam Mawlawi and Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, General Joseph Aoun.

During his meeting with the Lebanese PM, Ioannou referred to the long-standing friendship and close ties between the two countries and expressed gratitude for the willingness of the Lebanese government to strengthen their cooperation on migration challenges.

Ioannou said there has been an increase in irregular arrivals through the Mediterranean Sea route during the last two months.

He highlighted the need to find solutions to intercept the methods used by the illegal traffickers who shift irregular flows into the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, putting human lives at risk.

Najib Azmi Mikati expressed his government’s will to contribute to coordinating efforts between the two countries to prevent illegal arrivals to Cyprus.

The Interior Minister said he would lobby the EU for the need for substantial financial and operational support for Lebanon, as a third country burdened with the reception and accommodation of many refugees.