The ambassador of Cyprus to Lebanon, Panikos Kyriakou, is due to return to Beirut on Thursday, while an apartment has already been found which will be used temporarily as an embassy and also as a residence, it emerged on Tuesday.
The two buildings that housed both the embassy and the residence sustained serious damage from the devastating August 4 explosion in Beirut that killed scores of people, injured thousands and left hundreds of thousands homeless.
“We found an apartment to be used as a residence but also as a temporary embassy,” Kyriakou told CNA. “I will go on Thursday and we will start work on the repairs of the two buildings, or we will find a new one.”
Staff were using an undamaged part of the building to handle day-to-day work, he said. The remainder were working from home.
The embassy has also undertaken to submit proposals on how to distribute the €5m in funds that Cyprus will offer Lebanon as aid, that President Nicos Anastasiades pledged during a recent international donors teleconference organised by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Cyprus also sent tonnes of food donations to Beirut last week, along with a shipment of medicines.
Kyriakou said one of the options was to funnel the aid money to Lebanese hospitals.
“We will get in touch to see their needs, we will talk to both the Lebanese Red Cross and the Lebanese authorities to make proper use of the money for the benefit of the Lebanese people. We are in the process of investigating and I have instructed the embassy officials. to start contacts,” he said.
He said the money would not be going directly to the Lebanese government. “We will help projects that aim to benefit a large part of the population, such as a school, a hospital, a church,” he added.
Kyriakou also said more medical equipment and medicines would be sent soon from Cyprus to Lebanon and there were still several NGOs and private companies that were continuing to collect aid.
Asked about the Cypriots who are still in Lebanon, Kyriakou said that they were few, and mainly people who have been living there for many years. “We gave help to one or two cases who asked,” he added.
As for the Lebanese who have Cypriot passports, he said that many were already in Cyprus and the rest did not contact the embassy seeking help.