Lebanon - 7 dead as boat capsizes in Tripoli
The #economiccrisis and the ongoing government #corruption in #Lebanon continue to force its people to seek a better life abroad. Despite knowing dangerous #sea routes, desperation to seek safety resulted in a tragic sea accident on April 23rd. A boat transporting displaced people, capsised at sea just off the #Tripoli coast in the northernmost part of Lebanon.
According to #UNHCR, the boat carried at least 84 people when it began to sink a mere 5.5 km off the coast. Many have blamed the Lebanese navy's aggressive pursuit of the boat for its fatal overturn. Seven dead bodies were retrieved from the sea in the hours following the incident. At the same time, another 48 passengers rescued were reported as injured. The fatalities include a 40-day-old baby and women, children, and older people. The army has confirmed the presence of #Syrian and #Palestinian refugees on board, besides Lebanese nationals.
As a national tragedy for the Lebanese people, this is also a sad reminder that the economic crisis in Lebanon is heavily impacting #refugees from neighbouring nations. In the words of Ayaki Ito, UNHCR Representative to Lebanon, "it is crucial that continuous support is mobilised to help Lebanon as living conditions worsen for refugees and Lebanese alike."
As an international community, we must continue to support those communities in precarious situations and demand home and host states to ensure safe routes for people fleeing violence, poverty, and climate change. Mathieu Luciano, Head of IOM Lebanon, has stated that "[s]afe and legal alternatives to irregular migration are urgently needed, including support to local livelihoods and improved access to services in communities at risk."
While the victims are laid to rest by family and friends in Tripoli, the tragedy has refuelled the outrage across Lebanon, resulting in several protests pointing at the economic crisis for the people's desperate decision to flee the country.