89 dead in Lebanon migrant shipwreck off Syria

Damascus: Eighty-nine bodies have been recovered since a boat carrying migrants from Lebanon Syria’s state media said it sank off Syria’s coast on Saturday, as the Lebanese army said it had arrested a smuggler suspected of being behind one of the recent deadly shipwrecks. most in the east. Mediterranean.
Filippo GrandiUnited Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), calling it a “heartbreaking tragedy”.
At least 14 rescued people are recovering in hospitals in Syria while six others have been discharged, as search efforts continue, with several still missing since the boat sank on Sunday. Thursday.
Syria’s SANA news agency reported: “There are 89 victims, while 14 are being treated at Al-Basel Hospital, two of them are in intensive care.” Iskandar Ammara hospital official.
The Lebanese military said it had arrested a Lebanese man “who admitted to organizing the recent smuggling operation from Lebanon to Italy by sea”.
Lebanon, a country that has taken in more than a million refugees from Syria’s civil war, has been mired in a financial crisis since 2019. World Bank is one of the worst in modern times.
It has become a launch pad for waves of illegal migration, with its own citizens joining Syrian and Palestinian refugees calling to leave.
Up to 150 people were on board the small boat that sank off the Syrian port of Tartus, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of the Lebanese capital Tripoli, where the migrants set sail.
Those on board were mainly Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians, including children and the elderly, the UN said.
Families in Lebanon will hold a second day of funerals on Saturday after they were handed the bodies of their loved ones Friday night through the Arida border crossing with Syria.
Since 2020, Lebanon has seen a spike in the number of migrants using its shores to try to navigate the danger in packed boats to Europe.
The United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF, said it had initial reports that 10 children were “among those who lost their lives” in the latest disaster.
Years of political instability and economic crisis in Lebanon have pushed many children and families into poverty, affecting their health, welfare and education, UNICEF added. more.
Philippe LazzariniThe head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said, “No one is taking it lightly on these death boats. People are making this dangerous decision, risking their lives in search of dignity. ”
Lazzarini said more needs to be done “to deliver a better future and address the feeling of hopelessness in Lebanon and across the region, including for Palestinian refugees”.
Antonio VitorinoThe head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said: “Those seeking safety should not be forced to undertake such dangerous and often deadly migration journeys.”
Most boats departing from Lebanon are headed to European Union member Cyprus, an island about 175 km (110 mi) to the west.

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