Lebanese army stops boat carrying 90 people off coast

Lebanese army stops boat carrying 90 people off coast
File photo of a UNIFIL navy boat in Lebanon approaching a boat overcrowded with migrants in the Mediterranean Sea in 2018. (AP/File Photo)
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Updated 21 November 2021

Lebanese army stops boat carrying 90 people off coast

Lebanese army stops boat carrying 90 people off coast
  • Women and children were among the group intercepted Friday by a navy patrol off the coast
  • The boat almost sank in bad weather and that all on board were rescued and taken to shore

BEIRUT: The Lebanese army said Saturday it had stopped a boatload of 91 people including Syrian and Palestinian refugees from departing Lebanon illegally.
Women and children were among the group intercepted Friday by a navy patrol off the coast of Qalamoun in northern Lebanon, the army said.
It said the boat almost sank in bad weather and that all on board were rescued and taken to shore.
The statement did not specify their intended destination.
The Republic of Cyprus, a European Union member just 160 kilometers (100 miles) away, is a common destination for would-be migrants trying to flee Lebanon, which is mired in economic and political crisis.
On Friday the Lebanese security forces said they had thwarted an attempt by 82 people to illegally cross by sea from the Lebanon into Europe.
The Internal Security Forces said they raided a “tourist resort” in the Qalamoun area on Thursday after being tipped off.
They found “82 people, including men, women, and children, who were planning to head to Europe via sea in an illegal manner for a fee of $5,000 per person,” without specify their nationality.
The number of people attempting to make deadly sea crossings out of Lebanon has surged since the country’s financial crisis began in 2019.
Most of the would-be migrants are already refugees who fled the war in neighboring Syria, but an increasing number of Lebanese nationals are also attempting the perilous journey.
Around 80 percent of Lebanon’s population is estimated to be living under the poverty line, as defined by international organizations, and the Lebanese pound has lost 90 percent of its value against the dollar on the black market.
Lebanon says it hosts more than 1.5 million Syrians, nearly a million of whom are registered as refugees with the UN.
Official estimates put the number of Palestinian refugees in the country at 180,000 but the actual number could be as high as 500,000.