President pleads for action on Middle East

President Karolos Papoulias yesterday appealed to the international community to end the violence in the Middle East as the flow of refugees toward Cyprus appeared to ease for the first time since the conflict in Lebanon began. «After World War II, the international community believed that the logic of collective punishment would never return,» Papoulias said in a speech marking the 32nd anniversary of the fall of the military junta and the restoration of democracy in Greece. «Every child and civilian that is killed, every refugee is not just a number on a list of victims but a burden on our conscience and the guilt of international diplomacy,» the president said. In his speech to thousands of invited guests at the Presidential Palace, Papoulias implored the international community «to put an immediate end to the vicious cycle of violence in the Middle East.» Meanwhile, officials in Cyprus said that the influx of evacuees from Lebanon had slowed down. More than 35,000 refugees, including 12,000 Americans, are estimated to have arrived on the island since the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon began almost two weeks ago. Some 25,000 refugees are thought to have flown out of Cyprus since then. Britain’s High Commissioner to Cyprus Peter Millett said that the evacuation of Britons was almost complete.