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Interior minister calls on EU to prepare for possible refugee crisis

interior minister, constantinos ioannou, migrants, irregular migrations
Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou

Coordinated action is needed to deal with possible new flows of refugees because of the Hamas-Israel war, Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said at the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council in Luxemburg.

According to a statement from the ministry on Thursday, Ioannou called on the commission to elaborate and submit a specific management plan outlining actions in response to a possible crisis.

He also expressed to his counterparts the concern that if flows from neighbouring states cannot be contained and refugees adequately accommodated, Cyprus will face increased migration pressures, in addition to the ones from Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey.

The interior minister highlighted the importance of upgrading the EU’s relations with regional partners through mutually beneficial cooperation frameworks and measurable outcomes.

He said third countries in “the European neighbourhood” can act as pillars of stability and promoted the signing of a cooperation agreement between Frontex and Lebanon, as well as Frontex and Egypt.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Ioannou discussed measures taken by Cyprus towards effective immigration management with Director of the European Asylum Agency, Nina Gregory.

Ioannou expressed that Cyprus is concerned about ongoing flows from Syria and Lebanon due to its proximity to the region and about managing these without adequate tools.

He reiterated the need to reassess the status of Syria and evaluate the possibility of targeted returns under terms and conditions corresponding to the current facts on the ground.

Meanwhile, an action plan for migration management in the Eastern Mediterranean, approved by the commission on Wednesday, was presented to the council.

During the discussion, Ioannou noted the importance of the action plan for Cyprus and expressed satisfaction that it included measures requested by the country.

He emphasised the need to follow through and called on the Commission and the European external action service to immediately take initiatives in this direction.

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