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Cyprus asks EU for more tents after 194 migrants arrive

migrant boat
File photo

Cyprus has reached out to the EU for help including requesting items such as tents, after 194 migrants arrived to the island’s shores, it emerged on Sunday.

The interior ministry said four boats departed from Lebanon containing 194 Syrian migrants. They arrived to Cyprus at 11:30pm on Saturday and all individuals were transferred to the Pournara reception centre, while police arrested four people who are believed to be the smugglers.

The migrants are hosted in tents in Pournara’s facilities as the centre is close to capacity, the interior ministry’s permanent secretary Loizos Hadjivasiliou told the Cyprus News Agency.

At the same time, Cyprus has activated its national ‘Nafkratis’ plan, sending a request to the EU support mechanism asking for equipment, including tents and other materials, in case more migration flows reach the island.

The request comes amid concerns Cyprus reaches its capacity in terms of supplies, the interior ministry said. At the moment, there is room for 500 more people in Pournara. Should more arrive, the site in Limnes will be utilised which can host another 130.

Hadjivasiliou said the migrants were spotted by the joint rescue coordination centre. The first boat was seen at 11:30pm on Saturday with 110 people, and the second followed shortly after with 52 individuals. Both boats were headed in the direction of Ayia Napa.

On Friday, diplomatic sources told the Cyprus Mail Cyprus is preparing for a scenario in which more than 100,000 people may need to be evacuated from Lebanon, Israel, and the broader region if the violence in the Middle East escalates.

Cyprus’ interior minister also warned developments in Israel and Gaza could impact Lebanon’s ability to monitor its shores, raising the risk for an increased influx of migrants trying to come to Cyprus.

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