BEIRUT — The Internal Security Forces (ISF) announced Monday the arrest of two men affiliated with a human trafficking network that organizes irregular emigration from Libya to Europe.
The ISF stated that the two men, both Syrian nationals, entered Lebanon illegally and were arrested in the country's east, near the Syrian border.
The stated that the smugglers were part of a network that organizes the irregular emigration of "Syrians, Lebanese, Egyptians, Palestinians, Africans and others from Libya to Europe by boat." One of the smugglers worked with his two brothers, one residing in Libya and the other in Greece.
The statement indicated that the two men also had accomplices, "Lebanese from the Wadi Khaled region" in the north of the country, one of the main crossing points for Syrians entering Lebanon illegally. The men confessed charging "3,500 dollars" for their services and said they organized journeys from Libya, to Italy and Greece by boat.
The two men fled to Syria after a boat they organized sank off the coast of Tobruk in eastern Libya several months ago.
Plunged into chaos since the fall of the Gaddhafi regime in 2011, Libya has become a hub for migrants seeking to reach Europe by sea. Among them are a large number of Syrians, driven by war and economic crisis. Syrian migrants typically travel to Libya by plane, often via Lebanon.
The Lebanese authorities regularly announce the arrest of Syrians entering the country illegally in an attempt to deter emigration from Lebanon, especially to neighboring Cyprus, the gateway to the European Union.
The central Mediterranean route is the world's most dangerous migration route, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The IOM estimated that since the beginning of 2023, 2,066 migrants have disappeared on the route, compared to 1,417 in 2022.