South Cyprus is preparing for the repatriation of Cypriots, Europeans and third country nationals from Syria and Lebanon should an airstrike commence.
“Not only are we prepared, but we have been preparing ourselves for some time now and we are mobilising all the government departments that will be deployed should developments lead to a generalised conflict,” Foreign Minister Kasoulides told German broadcaster,Deutsche Welle.
The Foreign Ministry says it is also expecting an influx of refugees to Cyprus once Lebanon gets involved in the conflict and has warned that the number of refugees will increase if there is an intervention from western countries. That has sparked concerns that refugees may see Cyprus not just as a transit point, but as a long-term place of safety.
Few doubt that this small country of fewer than one million will struggle to deal with any refugee influx, especially during the height of a tourist season – which may also be affected should the island be caught up in the Syrian conflict.