Six bodies in total, including that of a little girl aged one and a half, were recovered after the sinking on Saturday April 23 of a boat carrying around sixty migrants off the coast of Lebanon, the National Agency for information (ANI). On Sunday, 48 people were rescued, according to the latest official figures.
According to the Lebanese army, which came to the aid of the migrants whose nationality was not specified, they were trying to leave Lebanon illegally on board a boat off Qalamoun, in the North. The boat, overloaded, would then have sank due to water infiltration, following powerful waves.
The director of the port of Tripoli (northern Lebanon), Ahmad Tamer, indicated that navy units and civilian boats headed for Ramkine Island, the westernmost of the islets of Fanar-Ramtein to fish the bodies. The islands belong to the municipality of El-Mina.
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While most of those trying to leave Lebanon illegally by sea are Syrian refugees, the number of Lebanese also trying to leave is on the rise, as the country is plunged into a serious economic and political crisis. In two years, the purchasing power of the Lebanese has collapsed, and the national currency has lost more than 95% of its value on the free market.
Between January and November 2021, at least 1,570 people including 186 Lebanese sailed illegally or tried to sail from Lebanon, according to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) in this country. Main destination: Cyprus, a member of the European Union, some 160 km away.
According to Agence France-Presse, the families of some passengers gathered to check in, but they were refused access to the port. “It happened because of politicians who forced unemployed Lebanese to leave the country”, cried a man who was waiting for news of a relative outside the port, according to AFP. Reacting to the announcement of this tragedy, the President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, asked for the opening of an investigation.