Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Syria’s Security Services Arrest Survivors of Lebanon’s ‘Death Boat’

Syria’s Security Services Arrest Survivors of Lebanon’s ‘Death Boat’

Tuesday, 27 September, 2022 - 08:30
Mother (C) of Palestinian Rawad Sayyid, who died after a boat carrying migrants sank off the coast of Syria, weeps during his funeral at Shatila Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon, 24 September 2022. (EPA)

Director General of the General Authority of al-Basel Hospital Dr. Iskandar Ammar said all the survivors of the migrant boat sinking off Syria’s coast have been discharged from the hospital after their health improved.

His remarks came in light of reports that said Syrian security agencies had detained several young Syrians and Palestinians who had survived the sinking off Syria’s Tartus city.

The Action Group for Palestinians of Syria (AGPS), a London-based human rights watchdog that monitors the situation of Palestinian refugees in war-torn Syria, said the survivors were detained because they are allegedly wanted for compulsory military service.

Medical sources at al-Basel hospital said 27 of the survivors have received treatment.

The Consolidated Rescue Group, which is specialized in following up on the news of migrants seeking refuge in the European Union, had warned of the possibility of the survivors being detained for interrogation.

Most of the survivors are from the opposition-run Idlib governorate in northwestern Syria, it noted.

Meanwhile, several Palestinian families appealed for help to uncover the fate of their missing relatives.

The death toll from the sinking rose to 99 on Monday after a body was recovered on Tartous beach.

According to survivors, the Europe-bound boat sailed from the Lebanese coastal town of Minyeh on Tuesday. It was carrying people from various nationalities.

Lebanon, which has been mired in a stifling financial crisis since 2019, has become a launchpad for illegal migration, with its own citizens joining Syrian and Palestinian refugees clamoring to leave the country towards Europe, AFP reported.

It added that the measures taken by the security forces have failed to curb the phenomenon.

The Lebanese army announced Saturday that it had arrested a suspected smuggler who allegedly organized the ill-fated boat journey.

Investigations are ongoing to arrest others involved, the army said.

Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), called the sinking a “heart-wrenching tragedy.”

He called for full solidarity from the international community to help improve the conditions of forcibly displaced people and host communities in the Middle East.

“Too many people are being pushed to the brink,” he stressed in a joint statement with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

“People looking for safety should not be compelled to take such perilous and often deadly migration journeys,” said António Vitorino, IOM Director General.

“This is just tragic. No one gets on these death boats lightly. People are taking this perilous decisions, risking their lives in search of dignity. We must do more to offer a better future and address a sense of hopelessness in Lebanon and across the region, including among Palestine refugees” said Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini of UNRWA.

Editor Picks