Fifty Turkish Cypriot citizens are among a group of 87 Turks and their relatives, and 110 Palestinians to be evacuated from Gaza. The group arrived in Egypt via the Rafah border on Sunday, with some flying on to Türkiye and others due to arrive today, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Öncü Keçeli said.
Officials from the Turkish Embassy in Cairo have been on hand to co-ordinate the evacuation on the ground, as they welcome and support those leaving Gaza ahead of being flown to Türkiye.
Responding to the news that Turkish Cypriots were among those on their way home on Sunday, a statement from the Foreign Ministry of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) confirmed that the group of fifty are the first TRNC citizens to be evacuated from Gaza following Israel’s attacks.
The statement added that the TRNC authorities have been working closely with Türkiye to ensure its citizens could leave Gaza, and that it expects more Turkish Cypriots to be evacuated from the region in the coming days.
TRNC nationals in Gaza, the West Bank or Israel have been advised to follow the official websites and social media accounts of the TRNC Foreign Ministry, as well as the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv and its Consulate General in Jerusalem for updates.
Historically, many Turkish Cypriots have mixed Palestinian ancestry after thousands were wed to Palestinian Muslims in the 1930s as Turkish Cypriot families sought to escape extreme poverty in British-administered Cyprus. The two peoples continue to enjoy strong relations.
Alongside the group of Turks allowed to leave Gaza on Sunday were 110 Palestinians – 61 patients and 49 relatives – who have been brought to Türkiye for treatment. Most of the patients are cancer sufferers, although some have more serious conditions, the Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told media earlier today.
A total of 150 Palestinians have arrived in Türkiye from Gaza to date for medical treatment. Mr Koca has said his country is happy to take as many of the estimated 1,000 cancer patients in Gaza as they possibly can. The first 27 patients arrived in Ankara last Thursday, according to a report by Reuters.
Main image, top, show Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan (R) with his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu (L), 04 Oct 2023. Photo © Turkish MFA