Calls for EU coordination on possible Middle East refugee flows

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Cyprus wants coordinated action from Brussels to deal with a possible new influx of refugees due to the Israel-Hamas war, Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou told the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg.

During the discussion on the war between Hamas and Israel, the minister stressed the need for coordinated action by the EU to deal with possible refugee flows to Member States.

He called on the Commission to submit a concrete management plan at the European level that provides for specific actions that respond to the magnitude of the possible crisis that could arise.

Ioannou expressed concerns that if the flows cannot be contained and refugees from neighbouring countries cannot be adequately accommodated, Cyprus could face increased pressures and those arising from existing arrivals from Syria, Lebanon and Turkey.

During the discussion on migration, Ioannou argued the importance of substantially upgrading the EU’s relations with regional partners based on mutually beneficial frameworks of cooperation and measurable results.

He said that third countries in the European neighbourhood should act as pillars of stability and suggested initiating the process towards signing a cooperation agreement between Frontex and Lebanon as well as Egypt.

In a meeting with the director of the European Union Agency for Asylum, Nina Gregori, Ioannou discussed the measures taken in Cyprus to manage the migration issue effectively.

Ioannou expressed concerns regarding Syria due to the country’s proximity to the region and the extent to which Cyprus is affected by the continuous flows from Syria and Lebanon without having tools at its disposal to be able to manage them.

He reiterated the need to reopen the discussion on the region’s assessment to ensure the possibility of targeted returns as far as possible, under terms and conditions appropriate to the situation in Syria.

At the meeting of the Interior Ministers, the Commission presented the Action Plan for managing migration flows in the Eastern Mediterranean, the adoption of which was announced on Wednesday.

Nicosia expressed satisfaction that it included measures requested by Cyprus.