The number of Syrian refugees fleeing fighting in their country has reached 115,000 and aid agencies must develop a plan to deal with the growing humanitarian emergency, EU officials said on Monday. "It's a horrible situation there, changing by the hour," Ceclia Malmstrom. European Union Commissioner for Home Affairs, told journalists following a meeting of aid officials in Cyprus. Cyprus, which holds the rotating six month EU presidency, is the closest member state to Syria, separated by a 170 km stretch of sea.
European Justice and Home Affairs Ministers, meeting at an informal session, heard from United Nations aid agency UNHCR that 115,000 Syrians had already fled to Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.
In consultation with the EU, Cyprus has drafted contingency plans to assist in the evacuation of up to 200,000 people - EU passport holders and third-country nationals - as a worst case scenario, officials said. Cypriot officials have stressed the contingency planning would only be to facilitate the repatriation of people fleeing violence, and not for admitting Syrian refugees. (Reuters)