Lebanese security forces arrest dozens of Europe-bound migrants

Lebanese security forces arrest dozens of Europe-bound migrants
Dozens of would-be migrants from different nationalities have been detained in northern Lebanon as they tried to board boats bound for Europe, Lebanese police said.
2 min read
01 October, 2015
Many refugees travel to Turkey and Europe via the northern Lebanon city of Tripoli [Getty]

Lebanese security forces arrested 44 people from different nationalities on Wednesday as they tried to leave by boat from the northern city of Tripoli for a journey toward Europe, according to local Lebanese media.

The group, which included men and women, was apparently aiming to reach Germany. Many had reportedly come from the large, long-established Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon's south.

The boat's owner was also detained.

"In the context of our work to fight human trafficking through illegal migration, the Internal Security Forces (ISF) monitored a Mitsubishi bus and its driver H.D., of Lebanese nationality and born in 1989, carrying 44 people of Syrian, Palestinian, Ethiopian and Bangladeshi nationalities," the ISF said in a statement.

[Click to enlarge]

Several instances of boats ferrying asylum-seekers from Tripoli's fishermen's port have been recorded in the past two months. The vessels used for the journey were no larger than 10 meters in width, similar to those used by local fishermen.

It is an offense to enter Tripoli's port area without a security clearance or ferry ticket.

In the past three months thousands of Syrian refugees from the neighbouring country's civil war have been leaving Tripoli on passenger ferries toward Turkey with the aim of reaching Europe, which is struggling to cope with hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Lebanon has taken in over 1 million Syrian refugees, one of the highest number per capita in the world, and has increasingly become a transit point for Syrians trying to reach the European Union via Turkey.

The small eastern Mediterranean country has also long hosted tens of thousands of Palestinians who live in camps like Ain al-Hilweh that developed after Lebanon absorbed refugees from the war of Israel's creation more than 60 years ago.

A few weeks ago, European leaders visited Lebanon and Jordan, pledging more aid to refugees there in a bid to keep them from travelling to Europe. There was also talk of increased pressure on local law enforcement authorities to curb "illegal migration".