At least 73 migrants killed as boat capsizes off Lebanon

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The decomposed bodies were loaded onto a ship in the Syrian port of Tartus on Thursday.– (AFP)

Syrian Health Minister Hassan al-Ghabash said at least 73 people were killed in the wreck of a migrant boat off the Syrian coast that left northern Lebanon. This is one of the deadliest episodes Lebanon’s exodus Due to the crisis the country has been going through since 2019, Syrian authorities have rescued about twenty survivors from the port of Tartus who are being treated at a hospital in the city, Al Ghabash said in a statement in which it It was clarified that the balance number of deaths is not certain. Most of the dead are Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians. The barge was carrying more than 150 people, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement based on survivors’ statements. Dozens are still missing.

The minister also pointed out that some relatives of the dead have come from Lebanon in coordination with the Red Cross to identify them.

The boat left for Europe earlier this week, Lebanese Transport Minister Ali Hami told Reuters. More and more people are illegally leaving Lebanon, a country where 80% of the population is below the poverty levelThe currency has lost 95% of its value against the dollar and banks have closed indefinitely after many entered armed to demand their savings, which have been subjected to a partial corrito.

A branch of the Bank of Beirut in the Lebanese capital is closed and protected this Thursday.
A branch of the Bank of Beirut in the Lebanese capital is closed and protected this Thursday.Bilal Hussain (AP)

Not only Lebanese do this. Also Syrian refugees (Lebanon hosts 1.5 million Due to the war that started in 2011) and Palestinians, who mainly live in refugee camps established seven decades ago, following their expulsion and flight during the First Arab-Israeli War.

Last April, another boat sank while being pursued by the Lebanese Navy near Tripoli. At least a dozen bodies were found, while 45 migrants were rescued alive. In addition, survivors of a boat that capsized in Turkish waters this month told coast guards that they had left the Lebanese city of Tripoli with the intention of reaching Italy. Six people, including two children, died.

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Illegal migration by sea, mainly Cyprus – a stop for other European countries – about 200 km away – skyrocketed in 2020, as the acute economic crisis in which Lebanon lived for a year before worsening was. According to UN figures, at least 38 ships departed that year with more than 1,500 passengers. More than 75% were intercepted by the authorities or returned to the ground.

The incident has only escalated since then. This figure doubled in 2021 and this year it has increased by 70% as compared to the same period last year.

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