Newsroom / CNA
A five year-old boy aboard a vessel, carrying dozens of Syrian refugees en route to Cyprus, drowned over the weekend off the coast of Lebanon, before the Lebanese army managed to rescue 38 passengers.
A total of 39 Syrian refugees on board a vessel are believed to have attempted to reach Cyprus on Saturday, with one boy drowning and three people in a serious condition being treated in hospital. Some reports said the boy was of Palestinian origins.
"A navy patrol unit immediately headed there, retrieved the body of a five-year-old child and rescued the rest" of the passengers, an official statement said on Saturday.
According to Reuters, the incident marks the first time in an entire year where a group of refugees attempted to travel to Europe by boat from Lebanon, where Syrian refugees account for roughly a quarter of the population.
The incident marks the first time in an entire year where a group of refugees attempted to travel to Europe by boat from Lebanon
The distance between Cyprus and Lebanon’s northern coast is around 180 kilometres, while Syrian refugees have been using small boats in Turkey to reach Cyprus with most ultimately seeking asylum in the EU.
The Republic of Cyprus recently began to mount a campaign where officials seek greater cooperation with EU and other partners, while acknowledging that the issue remains one of a humanitarian crisis.
The UN refugee agency UNHCR says there are close to 1 million registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon, while government figures in that country puts the number closer to 1.5 million.
As Syrian forces and their allies have retaken more territory in Syria, Beirut has been calling on refugees to go back to areas where fighting is over before a deal is reached to end the civil war.