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Cyprus to accept migrants because of the Israel-Hamas war

Cyprus is preparing for a potentially large influx of migrants in the event of a further escalation of the military crisis in Israel and the Gaza Strip, the island’s authorities said on Monday.

According to Cyprus Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou, the Pournara camp, located on the outskirts of the capital Nicosia, will have increased staffing to provide the necessary care for arrivals and speed up the processing of asylum applications. The capacity of the camp, which had been designed to accommodate 1,153 people, will also be increased.

Authorities are assessing other places to house the migrants if the number of arrivals exceeds the centre’s capacity and will immediately ask the European Union to send additional staff to process asylum claims, the statement said.

On Saturday alone, more than 200 migrants arrived in Cyprus on four separate boats on Saturday, probably sailing from Lebanon, 108 miles (174 kilometres) off the country’s east coast, state broadcaster CyBC reported. Official statistics said the number of migrants arriving by boat more than tripled in August and September compared to the same period last year.

Constantinos Ioannou accused Beirut of failing to regulate the movement of migrants across the Mediterranean Sea. He said Lebanon’s possible involvement in Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip and the general deterioration of the situation in the Middle Eastern country have weakened Beirut’s efforts to control its territorial waters and prevent migrants from sailing.

Lebanon hosts about 805,000 Syrian refugees registered with the UN, but officials estimate the real number to be much higher, between 1.5 and 2 million.

Regular clashes between Israeli troops and armed groups in Lebanon have been taking place since the war between Israel and the militant Palestinian group Hamas began following a deadly terrorist attack by the latter on 7 October.

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