The Lebanese army rescued more than 100 migrants Friday after their boat developed technical problems in the Mediterranean off the coast of the northern city of Tripoli, state-run National News Agency reported. No one was hurt in the incident.
The agency said the boat that was carrying 125 people, all of them Syrians except for one Lebanese, called for help after they faced problems while near the Palm Islands in Lebanese territorial waters. The boat was towed to port in Tripoli where some of the migrants received first aid, the agency added.
The army said in a statement that the migrants included eight women and 24 children.
For years Lebanon had been a net recipient of refugees from the region, but since the small nation’s economic meltdown began in October 2019, thousands of Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians have been attempting the dangerous trip across the Mediterranean to reach Europe in search of stability and opportunities.
Lebanon has some 805,000 UN-registered Syrian refugees, but officials estimate the actual number to be between 1.5 million and 2 million. Lebanon is also home to tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their descendants, many living in 12 refugee camps scattered around the country.
Over the past months, thousands of Syrian citizens fleeing worsening economic conditions in their war-torn country made it to Lebanon through illegal crossing points.
In August, Lebanese troops detained dozens of Lebanese and Syrian traffickers in the country’s north while they were preparing to send migrants on boats to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea.
A boat carrying migrants from Lebanon capsized off Syria’s coast in September last year, leaving at least 94 people dead, one of the deadliest incidents involving migrants. It was followed by a wave of detentions of suspected smugglers.