BEIRUT (AFP) – The number of people attempting to make the deadly sea crossing to Cyprus from Lebanon has surged this year, Save the Children said yesterday.
“September saw a significant uptick in crossings with 230 people travelling on five boats pushed back to Lebanon after attempting the journey to Cyprus by sea,” it said.
Save the Children said 21 crossings had been attempted to Cyprus between July and September, more than the 17 reported for the whole of 2019.
Most of the attempted crossings usually depart from Lebanon’s northern coast, in the Tripoli area.
The Republic of Cyprus lies just 160 kilometres away.
According to the army and aid groups, several people have drowned or died of health complications while drifting at sea in recent weeks.
Most of the would-be migrants are already refugees who fled the war in neighbouring Syria but an increasing number of Lebanese nations are attempting the perilous journey.
Lebanon, which hosts nearly 1.5 million Syrian refugees, was struggling from a severe economic crisis and political instability even before the coronavirus pandemic struck.
That was exacerbated by the massive August 4 explosion at Beirut’s port, which laid waste to entire neighbourhoods and killed close to 200 people.