In the past, #migration in #Lebanon was attributed to the persecution of #Christians, who made up a large percentage of the immigrants and mostly came from the central district of Lebanon, called Mount Lebanon. The oppression by the Ottoman government made life untenable for people residing and finally drove them from their homes. Christians in Mount Lebanon were portrayed as defenseless #victims of persecution oppressed by the ruthless "Turks" to garner support for an independent Syria and Lebanon. This exaggerated narrative is known to portray Islam and "Turks" as nefarious, violent, and repressive.
The #immigrants of Mount Lebanon enjoyed many advantages that nearby districts did not have. These included growing infrastructure of roads, schools, and waterworks, thriving tourism, French political and military protection, lower taxes, and exemption from the selection for Christians into the Ottoman army. Other individual factors that led to migration were escaping a bad marriage, reuniting with family, seeking adventure, pursuing knowledge. However, the majority left for economic reasons. They were part of the global 'Great Migration' of the 19th century, which saw millions leaving poor economic conditions. The stagnation and the collapse of the silk economy of Mount Lebanon (which accounted for 60% of the GDP of Mount Lebanon by the beginning of the 20th century) and the textile manufacturing in Syria forced many to seek better livelihoods in the Americas.
Today, driven by the increasingly desperate economic circumstances and security concerns in the wake of the Beirut port explosion, many people are boarding smugglers' boats in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli bound for Cyprus, an EU member state around 160 kilometers away by the sea. Overall, more than 52,000 asylum seekers and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year. Compared to Libya, Tunisia, and Turkey – where most of these boat journeys originate – Lebanon's departures are still low. Nevertheless, given the deteriorating situation in the country and the sudden increase in numbers, the attempted crossings represent a significant new trend.