UK thanks Cyprus for evacuation help

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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has personally thanked President Nikos Christodoulides for offering Cyprus as a safe transfer hub for UK nationals evacuating Israel after the Hamas attacks.

They spoke over the phone Wednesday to discuss the crisis in the Middle East and Cyprus’ support in evacuating British nationals from Israel.

A statement from Sunak’s office said: “The Prime Minister thanked President Christodoulides for the vital Cypriot support in the repatriation of British Nationals from Israel.”

Discussing the situation in Israel and Gaza, the leaders reflected on the awful terrorist attacks by Hamas, the importance of avoiding escalation and protecting innocent civilians, the statement added.

Furthermore, Sunak reflected on his calls with other regional leaders and said he hoped a way forward could be found that brought lasting peace for innocent civilians on both sides.

“Discussing the close relationship between the UK and Cyprus, both leaders agreed it was a special bond built on historic ties and enduring friendships.”

Some 1,083 people have arrived in Cyprus from Israel so far, of which 871 have already departed, while temporary residency has been granted to 182, with these requests increasing daily.

Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos said authorities were preparing for a possible rapid increase in numbers.

He said people from 37 countries have passed through Cyprus and that 14 foreign missions are at the ZENON Coordination Centre in Larnaca, where they cooperate with the authorities.

Kombos said there was a great possibility that these numbers would be much larger in the event of an extension of the crisis.

He recalled that in the case of the evacuations from Sudan, a total of 2,611 had arrived in Cyprus.

Cyprus argues 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 two states.