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Brussels - The European Union needs to prepare for a humanitarian crisis in Syria with the potential for displacing huge numbers of people, Cyprus, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, said Wednesday.
Cyprus has put the topic on the agenda for talks in Nicosia on Monday and Tuesday between home affairs ministers.
In a discussion paper ahead of the talks, the Cypriot presidency said more than 100,000 Syrians displaced by the conflict had been registered so far in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey.
An EU official said the decision to discuss the issue was “an important signal” that the 27 EU nations will need to take political decisions regarding the humanitarian crisis in Syria.
While the impact on the EU has not been as significant, “there is still the need to use existing solidarity measures in order to prepare for a potential shift in migratory flows from the region,” it said.
It said a first useful measure would be to study how the EU could boost support to countries currently hosting displaced Syrians.
The paper also said “it could be useful for member states to share their national approaches and practices regarding displaced persons from Syria that are already present in their territories.”
Cyprus, which took the EU helm on July 1, has said it is ready with its European partners to evacuate third party nationals from Syria.
Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis has said that the island-nation, which is only 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the shores of Syria and Lebanon, was preparing an operation on the lines of its evacuation of 65 000 foreign nationals from Lebanon in 2006 during the Lebanon-Israel war that year. - Sapa-AFP