March 27, 2023


‘Bodies everywhere’ Ninety-seven people have died, including 24 children, after a boat full of asylum seekers heading from Lebanon to Europe capsized in the Mediterranean.

Speaking from a health center bed, still in shock, Ibrahim Mansour, one of 20 people who endured one of the most dangerous watercraft disasters in the Eastern Mediterranean, says he can’t forgive himself for not conserving others. More than 150 people got on board the little watercraft that cruised from crisis-hit Lebanon on Wednesday early morning, with the hope of reaching Italy for a far better life.

Those on board were mostly Lebanese, Syrians and also Palestinians, and included both young people and the elderly, according to the United Nations. Four hours after the watercraft dived in, the engine stopped.

Mansour, 29, recounted to Al Jazeera that those aboard called the smuggler ashore, but he said: “If you come back, we will certainly fire you.

” We likewise called 112 to seek assistance from Lebanese authorities, but no aid came. Because of the high waves, the boat lost control and capsized off the Syrian port of Tartous, some 50km (30 miles) north of Tripoli in Lebanon.

In a matter of moments, 100 individuals passed away, Mansour claimed. He saw “bodies all over”.

Those that made it through were clinging onto the boat that overturned. ” I sob regularly; I’m in shock. I saw bodies and also horrible photos. “My heart, my heart,” Mansour claimed.

I attempted to help the youngsters and one more guy; I tried to keep their spirits active, but I could not. This is injuring me, particularly as a result of the child who was keeping me prior to losing him. 

hey informed me he had died. “Mansour ultimately swam to the Syrian shore, reaching the coast on Thursday night.

Syrian state media reported that 97 individuals have actually passed away, 20 people have been rescued, and others are still missing. Among the dead were 24 kids and also 31 ladies, according to Lebanese Transport Priest Ali Hamie.

In a declaration on Sunday, the secretary-general of Lebanon’s Higher Alleviation Compensation, Mohammad Khair, said that five Lebanese and eight Palestinians, who got on the watercraft, are still being dealt with at the al-Basel Medical facility in Syria’s Tartous city and will return quickly to Lebanon.

The Lebanese military said it arrested a man it thinks was behind the presumed “contraband operation” to Italy.

An additional boy, who endured what he calls “a nightmare,” told Al Jazeera his tale of a rescue as he made his way back from Syria to Lebanon: It’s impossible to neglect what has actually occurred as well as the scenes I’ve been through.

When the watercraft tipped over, “individuals onboard were pressed by waves in all directions, left and right, under and over the water.

“No one came to rescue us,” he said. ” I remained for nearly a day near the watercraft, which was reversed and drifting; it hadn’t sunk.

I took care of myself to maintain myself over the watercraft, and afterwards I swam for 13 hours till I got to the Syrian Tartous coast.

” I’ve been told that some survivors were conserved and saved by Russian as well as Syrian watercraft, yet I saw nothing till I reached the shore,

“he said. “Circumstances are reaching a determined level. The calamity highlights the debilitating poverty as well as the installing misery that has actually been requiring lots of people in Lebanon, including Mansour, to attempt the dangerous crossings throughout the Mediterranean in hopes of reaching Europe. Lebanon, a nation that hosts more than a million refugees from Syria’s battle,

has actually since 2019 been mired in a financial situation branded by the World Financial Institution as one of the worst in modern-day times. Since 2020,

Lebanon has seen a spike in the number of Lebanese citizens that have joined Palestinian and Syrian evacuees in trying harmful boat journeys in search of a better life.

Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, reporting from Tripoli, said that “according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), around 3,500people attempted to make the journey this year alone; however, protection sources inform us that this is a conservative number.

Many on the boat were Palestinian refugees who, since the Nakba in 1948 (when hundreds of Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homes by Zionist militias), have been living throughout Lebanon in overcrowded, makeshift camps with no standard framework.

Palestinian evacuees living in Lebanon do not have fundamental legal rights; they are denied citizenship and have no access to health care or education and learning.

Tamara Alrifai, agent for the UN Alleviation as well as Works Firm for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), informed Al Jazeera that there were an estimated 25-30 Palestinian refugees on the tipped over boat.

A lot of them were from the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, “a camp that was significantly ruined around 15 years back in the rounds of violence in Lebanon.

” The circumstances of Palestine evacuees in Lebanon are getting to such a determined degree that they agree to risk their lives along these dangerous paths if there is hope beyond,” Alrifai stated.

“The opposite side constantly looks better than what most of them call hell. [Palestinian evacuees in Lebanon] are marginalized, disenfranchised, barred from having property, barred from careers.

The economic and also the economic collapse of Lebanon, specifically in 2015, has struck the most prone first [including Palestinian refugees].

Alrifai said among the Palestinian team of migrants, two of them were UNRWA schoolchildren. ” These are people we know.

These are youths that go to college, who have an education, and who wish to go to the opposite side and search for a much better life for themselves and for their children.

This is truly heartbreaking, and my colleagues at UNRWA are frightened by the information.

No one intends to be a refugee. “No one intends to live such an embarrassing life as Palestinian evacuees live in most of these camps,” Alrifai said.

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