The Lebanese army arrested 130 Syrians and five Lebanese in Sheikh Zennad, Akkar, Saturday for attempting to use informal means to flee Lebanon by sea, the army reported in a statement relayed on X (formerly Twitter).
The people arrested were "attempting to flee illegally by sea" to an unspecified European country. The army said one of the arrested Lebanese nationals, Ch. S., is the leader of an illegal migration ring. An investigation has been opened.
Such attempts to flee crisis-ridden Lebanon by these means have become commonplace.
The Lebanese army arrested five Syrian nationals in the Selaata region of Batroun in July, accusing them of organizing an illegal sea crossing. Between January and December 2022, the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) said it had received reports of 51 boats involved in irregular transit, with a total of 4,334 passengers on board.
In 2022, 62.2 percent of would-be immigrants leaving Lebanon were Syrians, 28 percent were Lebanese and 11 percent were Palestinians, according to UNHCR figures.