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Deadly shipwreck off Syria, Lebanon is turning into a land of exile – RT in French

A shipwreck has taken place off the Syrian coast. The latest assessment reports 73 victims of Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian nationalities. The serious crisis that has shaken Lebanon since 2019 is pushing Lebanese people to take the road to exile.

The balance sheet continues to grow. At least 73 migrants have drowned off the coast of Syria after their boat from Lebanon sank, Syrian television said. Earlier in the morning of September 23, Lebanese Minister of Transport Ali Hamiyé announced 61 victims and 19 survivors.

The boat, on which a Lebanese flag was hoisted, had left the village of Minié in northern Lebanon earlier this week, heading for Italy with 120 passengers on board, including elderly people, women and children. children of three nationalities: Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian.

According to information collected by the Lebanese media The Orient By Day, Russian and Syrian helicopters supported the Syrian Coast Guard and local fishermen who continued search operations on the night of September 22 in search of other survivors. Lebanese authorities remain in contact with their Syrian counterparts for updates without intervening in search operations. The survivors were taken to al-Bassel hospital in Tartous for medical treatment.

Shipwrecks that multiply

Also according to the Lebanese news site, another shipwreck was detected not far from Crete on September 20. Another migrant boat that narrowly avoided disaster thanks to the Greek coast guards who transferred them to the port of Kalamata on September 22.

On September 22, the Lebanese army reportedly arrested two people in the north of the country for their alleged involvement in facilitating illegal smuggling across the sea.

Makeshift boats, often overloaded with passengers and in dilapidated conditions, do not reach their intended destination. They are often intercepted by the Lebanese army or require rescue at sea. Several times a month, the Lebanese army prevents illegal emigration attempts.

In April, the sinking of an overloaded migrant boat, chased by the Lebanese navy off Tripoli (north) had left dozens dead and caused great anger in the country in crisis.

On September 13, the Turkish Coast Guard announced the death of six migrants, including two babies, and rescued 73 people who were trying to reach Europe, off the province of Mugla, in southwestern Turkey. These migrants would have embarked from the Lebanese port of Tripoli.

According to the UN, at least 38 boats carrying a total of more than 1,500 people have illegally left or attempted to leave Lebanon by sea since 2020.

Lebanon: from land of welcome to land of exile

Lebanon is indeed increasingly becoming a starting point for illegal migrant boats due to a severe economic and financial crisis caused by decades of mismanagement and corruption by a ruling class that has been virtually unchanged for dozens of years. ‘years.

From a land of welcome for Palestinians in 1948 and 1967 and for Syrians from 2011, the country of the Cedars is gradually changing into a land of exile. In addition to the shortages of medicines, electricity and basic necessities, the Lebanese pound continues its interminable fall. It has lost more than 95% of its value in just three years. On September 19, a dollar was exchanged for 38,500 Lebanese pounds, while in 2019 a greenback was worth 1,500 Lebanese pounds. This decline has serious consequences for the entire population. The minimum wage is just over $20 while in 2019 it was $450.

This economic crisis is responsible for the increase in Lebanese emigration. The latest figures show that departures are piling up: since 2018, the number of emigrants has quadrupled. Passport applications have doubled in one year. From January to April 2021 alone, more than 230,000 Lebanese went abroad, almost 3.86% of the country’s total population. Since the start of the crisis in Lebanon in October 2019, between 500,000 and one million inhabitants have fled the country. A figure that is not surprising when we see that nearly 77% of young Lebanese say they are seriously considering leaving their country according to the Arab Youth Survey at the end of 2020.

While most decide to leave Lebanon legally by joining family in Europe, North America, Brazil or even West Africa, for the less fortunate the outcome is more uncertain than ever.

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