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Cyprus ready to assist

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Cyprus is ready to repatriate its citizens from Syria and Lebanon as well as facilitate European Union and third country nationals, a foreign ministry official said on Monday.

Stavros Avgoustides, head of the consular affairs directorate, said Cypriots have already been asked to leave the two neighbouring countries but no requests for assistance have been received so far as airports were still open.

The ministry has warned Cypriots against all travel to Syria and all but essential travel to Lebanon, especially those areas bordering Syria.

The foreign ministry official said Cyprus is prepared to provide a safe transit point, if necessary, to people fleeing the troubled areas.

“There are special plans to facilitate European and third country citizens who will use Cyprus as a transit point,” Avgoustides said. “We are ready to tackle such an event. We have done so successfully in the past.”

Thousands of Europeans and other nationals were evacuated through Cyprus in the summer of 2006 as fighting broke out in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah militants.

Due to the instability in the region, Cypriot officials are continuously assessing the situation together with the EU and other governments.

“We are co-operating with them as well as the Americans, Canadians and Australians,” Avgoustides said.

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