A study is under way into the establishment of a coastguard, a force that will be independent from police, whose marine branch currently fulfils that role, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said on Thursday.
“In the context of modernisation and the need to respond to the multiple challenges that arise either because of our EU membership, or the needs in the region, due to our geopolitical position, and also due to the country’s development, a coastguard should be created which is independent from the police,” the minister said.
The unit, he added, will include both the aviation unit of the police and the marine police.
It will also collaborate with other services for fire fighting.
“This involves the coordination of all operations related to the marine and the air branches of the police and other services of the state in an effort to have more effective monitoring of the coast and sea area around Cyprus,” he said.
Nicolaou also said that from next week, a vessel from the Republic will assist rescue operations in the Mediterranean and specifically the Greek island of Chios.
The vessel will depart in the next few days.
More than 500,000 people have entered Greece through its outlying islands since January, transiting on to central and northern Europe in what has become the biggest humanitarian crisis on the continent in decades.
Nicolaou said the situation has created the need to be on constant alert and to be able to respond within the expected time to any incident.