Jordan, Greece and Cyprus say more support needed to states on refugee frontline

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (C), Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (R) and Jordanian King Abdullah II shake hands during a trilateral meeting in Nicosia on January 16, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 16 January 2018

Jordan, Greece and Cyprus say more support needed to states on refugee frontline

NICOSIA: Greece, Jordan and Cyprus called for more effective support to countries on the frontline of the Middle East refugee crisis on Tuesday and pledged to deepen cooperation on a host of issues from water management to protection of artefacts.
As millions of people have poured out of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey have taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees, while Greece has been used as a launchpad for many seeking to reach other European countries.
The three leaders also urged the international community to offer more support to Jordan and other countries which have borne the brunt of a mass influx of refugees fleeing the war in Syria.
Anastasiades and Tsipras said they would ask fellow European Union member countries to lend more assistance to Jordan.
“We underlined the huge challenges our countries face on the refugee crisis and naturally the need for the international community to actively and effectively support countries which host large numbers of refugees,” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said after a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades in Nicosia that were billed as the cornerstone of a new partnership.
He did not say what sort of support the countries want.
Jordan hosts over 1.3 million Syrian refugees, while thousands of refugees and migrants are stuck in Greece after its Balkan neighbors sealed off a route used by more than a million people in 2015 and early 2016 to get to other European states.
“Its an international concern and host countries like Jordan need the world’s support,” King Abdullah said.
“We are shouldering an immense refugee burden and cannot be left alone as we undertake this humanitarian responsibility on behalf of the world.”
The three countries said they would seek to boost cooperation on issues such as water management, tourism projects and in the shipping sector.
“It is no secret that we live in a very tough neighborhood, rife with challenges but also with opportunities and together, our chances of capitalizing on these opportunities ...increase tenfold,” Abdullah said.
Meanwhile, the Cypriot president said the fight against extremism necessitates even closer cooperation with Greece and Jordan.
Abdullah said his country is working with others to close off all routes for extremists. He said despite successes in Iraq and Syria, they can’t be allowed to regroup and establish footholds elsewhere.
An agreement was also signed on the prevention of theft, illicit excavations and export of cultural property.


New Zealand volcano spews ash plume in eruption, several injured

Updated 4 min 57 sec ago

New Zealand volcano spews ash plume in eruption, several injured

  • As many as 100 people were in the vicinity when the eruption began
  • The White Island volcano is one of New Zealand’s most active

WELLINGTON: A volcano erupted in New Zealand on Monday, spewing a plume of ash thousands of feet into the air, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying tourists were among several people unaccounted for as emergency services mounted a rescue operation.
As many as 100 people were in the vicinity when the eruption began about 2:11 p.m. (0111 GMT) on White Island, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the east coast of North Island, authorities said, sending up smoke visible from the mainland.
“We believe 100 people were on or around the island,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference, adding that a rescue operation had begun, although it was too early to confirm any injuries or deaths.
“A number of people are reportedly injured and are now being transported to shore,” she added. “It does appear to be a very significant issue...particularly the scale of people affected, at this stage.”
Many of those affected could be tourists, she said.
“I’m not sure if these people were on the island or near it, but there was definitely one group out there and they definitely needed medical care,” said Judy Turner, the mayor of the coastal town of Whakatāne, near White Island.
“There were some injuries and the focus is on getting these injured people back safely and to get them to a hospital.”
There seemed to be no danger for people in coastal areas farther away, she added.
The island’s immediate surroundings were hazardous because of the eruption, the National Emergency Management Agency said in a statement, adding that falling ash might affect some areas.
The “short-lived eruption” threw an ash plume about 12,000 ft (3,658 m) high, New Zealand’s geoscience agency GNS Science said in a statement, but added there were no current signs of an escalation.
The White Island volcano is one of New Zealand’s most active.