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Security alert over Middle East escalation

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Cyprus is on alert for security reasons, but also due to the large number of people expected to arrive trying to escape the Middle East conflict, said Justice Minister Anna Koukkides Procopiou.

On whether satisfactory security measures were being taken, given the volatile situation in the Middle East, Procopiou said: “Unfortunately, the situation is deteriorating daily”.

“Tensions are escalating in the Eastern Mediterranean, not only in the Middle East, and inevitably, they also affect Cyprus.”

She said the level of alertness for the Cyprus security forces in recent weeks is higher.

“Yes, we are on alert as the Republic of Cyprus for security reasons, but also because it is expected that there will be a large influx of people who will try to escape from areas of danger”.

Procopiou noted there has been an evacuation of foreign nationals from Israel.

“If things worsen in Lebanon, we should also expect a new wave of people trying to escape from danger and travel to a safer country.”

The Justice Minister said there is cooperation with European authorities to manage the situation as well as with the United States and partners in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying there is coordination with Egypt, Jordan, and Israel.

“We also saw the recent contacts of the President and the message he took with him to the European Council, that Cyprus is a pillar of security and stability in the region and can play a significant role”, Procopiou said.

At the EU Summit, President Nikos Christodoulides said Cyprus is the closest member state in the area, with excellent relations with its neighbouring states.

He urged the EU to engage more actively in the efforts to de-escalate the crisis.

Christodoulides said Cyprus could play a role in evacuating people from the area, receiving requests from over 20 countries, or supporting efforts to send humanitarian aid by creating a humanitarian sea corridor.

He has discussed this issue with the leaders of Egypt and Israel.

Cyprus is preparing for all scenarios of evacuating foreign nationals in Israel, Lebanon and the broader region.

Diplomats believe that over 100,000 may need evacuating, based on information that the Cypriot authorities have.

Such a major operation could be bigger than the 2006 sea evacuation of people from Lebanon to Cyprus.

Since October 7, some 1,188 people of 33 nationalities have arrived in Cyprus from Israel on 15 repatriation flights and two ships.

Approximately 90% of these people have already left Cyprus.