Lebanese police stopped an attempt to smuggle 51 Syrians to neighboring Cyprus
A police statement cited by the AFP news agency said that “On May 4, 2021, the Internal Security Force’s information branch stopped 51 Syrian nationals, including 39 men, five women and seven minors, who were heading to Cyprus by sea,”. According to the statement, the Syrians were stopped while waiting along Lebanon’s northern coast after paying a smuggler $2,500 (€2,000) each for the trip. The latest smuggling attempt comes just nine days after the army said it had stopped 69 Syrians in the northern region of Akkar near the border with Syria and arrested the smuggler who was planning to take them to Cyprus. The small nation of Lebanon, home to nearly seven million people excluding some 1.5 million Syrian refugees, is experiencing its worst economic crisis since its civil war, which lasted from 1975 until 1990. Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and a massive explosion at Beirut’s port last year, which killed dozens of refugees, the crisis has deprived tens of thousands of people of their livelihoods while the local currency has lost about 90% of its value. Last month, Human Rights Watch accused the Lebanese government of leaving refugees and migrants behind in its coronavirus vaccination strategy.