Cyprus has a substantial role to play as a “safe transfer hub” and the government is ready to fully assume this role, pledged Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides pledged on Thursday.
Addressing the national multistakeholder workshop entitled “Enhancing Coordination to support effective evacuations planning through Cyprus”, held at the Philoxenia Conference Centre, Christodoulides reminded that Cyprus was put to the test as a transit hub for the evacuation of thousands of civilians, during the Lebanon crisis, back in 2006.
Building on the experience acquired during that humanitarian evacuation operation, he said, “the government of the Republic of Cyprus established ESTIA, its own National Action Plan, which articulates national structures and internal procedures to manage the various aspects of such an operation, as well as the challenges emanating from it.”
The Plan, he added, foresees the coordination with foreign missions and other relevant international actors, as an integral part for any successful evacuation operation.
The Foreign Minister said that governmental services and actors in any country used as a “safe haven” have a principle role to play.
However, he underlined, “unless there is effective coordination with foreign governments and crisis management teams of the evacuees countries’ of origin, local and international non-governmental actors and, of course, international organisations, such an undertaking cannot be effectively managed”.
He also praised the work of the Head of office in Cyprus of the Organisation for Migration, Natasa Xenofontos Koudouna and her team for organising the workshop.
In her speech on Wednesday, Head of office in Cyprus of the Organisation for Migration, Natasa Xenofontos Koudouna, said that over the past years, Cyprus has played a key role as an orientational hub and point of transit for the evacuation of foreign nationals affected by crises in the MENA region. This was evident when during the 2006 Lebanon crisis, around 60,000 people were evacuated through Cyprus to their countries of origin.