Lebanon army arrests 64 people attempting to flee to Europe by sea
The migrants, who are believed to be Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian, were all detained and questioned, with the exception of a pregnant woman who was rushed to hospital due to bleeding.
The arrests took place near the Sheikh Znad area, several kilometres away from the northern city of Tripoli, and were taken into custody before their boat was set to sail, reported Al Jazeera.
The swoop comes after a boat carrying dozens of migrants capsized off the coast of Tripoli in April, killing at least seven people, and triggering an outcry in Lebanon.
The devastating incident provoked angry Tripoli residents to protest against the Lebanese navy, who they blamed for the incident. Survivors accused them of ramming the migrant boat and causing it to sink, which subsequently resulted in the death of some of those on board.
A total of 47 people were rescued, while several are still feared missing.
The Lebanese military also arrested five people who were preparing to smuggle 85 migrants, also in April.
Since the country’s economic meltdown in 2019, hundreds of Lebanese people – as well as Syrians- have tried to make the perilous journey to Europe, seeking a better life.
The United Nations refugee agency says at least 1,570 people, 186 of them Lebanese, left or attempted to leave by sea from Lebanon between January and November 2021.
Three quarters of the country's population have slipped into poverty as a result of Lebanon's currency losing 90 percent of its value in less than three years. This and other disastrous policies have resulted in a sharp increase in unemployment, people losing life savings and having their wages cut.
Additionally, Tripoli, which is Lebanon's second-largest city, is also the most impoverished. The city suffers from chronic underdevelopment and neglect from the central government and has one Lebanon's highest rates of unemployment.