Ceclia Malmstrom, the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs said after a meeting with the aid officials in Cyprus that the situation was turning worse with every passing hour. Cyprus, which is currently holding the EU presidency, is the closest member state to Syria, separated by the Mediterranean Sea.
The UN aid agency, UNHCR, informed the European Justice and Home Affairs Ministers that over 1,10,000 Syrians have already fled to neighbouring states like Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. Official sources said Cyprus, in consultation with the EU, has prepared contingency plans to help evacuate upto 2,00,000 people in case the situation turns for the worse.
Cyprus has also stressed that the contingency plan was aimed to facilitate repatriation of those fleeing violence and not admitting refugees from Syria. Malmstrom also said that the EU ministers were trying to put into place a special regional protection programme which would focus on humanitarian assistance and resettlement of the displaced people. She said they were looking at the problem particularly because the chances of violence in Syria were less likely in the next few weeks.
Cyprus Interior Minister Eleni Mavrou said that according to the UNHCR, 42,000 Syrians fled to Turkey, 30,000 went to Jordan, 34,000 went to Lebanon while 8,000 left for Iraq.
(With agency inputs)