MoD flies emergency cash to Cyprus for British personnel

A member of the British army in Cyprus
Image caption Many British soldiers are involved with peacekeeping activities in Cyprus

The UK has sent 1m euros (£850,000) to Cyprus as a "contingency measure" to provide military personnel with emergency loans.

The money is to be used for British personnel and their families if cash machines and debit cards stop working.

UK officials said a plane with the cash had landed at the RAF base in Akrotiri.

MPs in Cyprus have rejected a 10bn-euro (£8.7bn) EU-IMF bailout which European officials say is needed to prevent the collapse of its banking sector.

Cypriots are angry at a planned one-off levy of up to almost 10% on savings. The tax is a condition for Cyprus to get a loan from the EU and IMF.

Salary needs

A revised version of the tax would mean a 6.75% levy on deposits over 20,000 euros, with those over 100,000 euros charged at 9.9% - but the Cypriot parliament voted against the move after a debate on Tuesday.

The levy was expected to affect many of the 3,000 UK military personnel in Cyprus, and up to an estimated 25,000 expatriates.

The cash was flown out from RAF Brize Norton, in Oxfordshire, on Tuesday afternoon on one of the two weekly RAF flights that travel between the UK and Cyprus. It arrived at 19:50 GMT.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said the situation was being kept under review and it would consider further shipments if required, but that the cash was a contingency and not currently due to be distributed.

"The MoD is proactively approaching personnel to ask if they want their March, and future months' salaries, paid into UK bank accounts, rather than Cypriot accounts," they said.

"We're determined to do everything we can to minimise the impact of the Cyprus banking crisis on our people."

Chancellor George Osborne had already said the UK would compensate any British troops in Cyprus hit by plans to introduce a bank levy.

And British government workers would also be protected, he said.

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