Eps. 4: "human trafficking"..'Death boats' send Lebanese migrants escaping hell of reality to unknown fate; survivors tell painful stories

BY

Tue, 15 Sep 2020 - 12:33 GMT

Lebanese are migrating to an unknown fate, to escape hell of reality through "death boats"

Lebanese are migrating to an unknown fate, to escape hell of reality through "death boats"

The Headlines:

 

-The"death" trade is flourishing in the north.. and the Commander of the Lebanese Navy says: Immigration increased after the port explosion and we arrested 596 people until now.. Europe is terrified by the ghost of immigrants..The tragedy opens the wounds of the north’s forgotten capital and raises the alarm

 

- Survivors of illegal immigration in "Al-Fayhaa" tell the details of dark hours at the sea .. the mother of one of the victims says: “I want my son’s dead body”

 

- One of the victim’s father: I threw my son at sea and kept watching him, while the water took him far. I used to cover his eyes in the street so that he would not see the sweets in stores, because I could not afford buying it .. Mother of the child Mohamed: Hunger killed my son

 

- Mohamed Sufyan: “ I will try again even if my wife the baby she is bearing and myself die .. This better than dying in our country from starvation "

 

- The hero who rescued a boat in Tripoli: “An Indian guydiedwe put an SOS message in his pocket and threw him in the sea“

 

- Immigration lawyer in Cyprus in statments to"Egypt today": The authorities are paying close attention to the issue of illegal immigration after the exacerbation of the Lebanese crisis, for fear of an outbreak of asylum seekers from Lebanon to the European continent through the coast of Cyprus

 

- The tragedies of those lost in the sea open the wounds of the north’s forgotten capital and raise the alarm

 

- The hero who rescued a boat in Tripoli: “an  Indian  guydied we put anSOS message in his pocket and threw him in the sea“

 

- Former MP for Tripoli: The incident caused a sensation, and there are embassies of some European countries interfering to push the Lebanese state to work harder on curbing this business and tighten their hold on those responsible for such business

 

- A security official in statments to"Egypt today": The phenomenon increased after the aggravation of the economic crisis ..This crime one of the"human trafficking" forms and we have an independent administration ..We are considering tightening patrols on the beaches

 

- The regional representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in statments to"Egypt today": Smuggling of migrants is a cross-border crime that brings huge profits ... We support Lebanon's efforts to investigate cases of migrant smuggling and arrest smugglers ... Protecting the rights and safety of smuggled migrants is at the core of our response. We will soon implement a project funded by Switzerland to support Lebanon's efforts to identify cases of trafficking in persons affecting refugees

 

- Lebanese Human Rights Center: The Beirut Port disaster led to the rise of "illegal immigration" ... the crisis was present in 2015 and prices differ according to the guarantees of safe access to European shores that the mediator puts on his victim

 

- Hajjah Afaf:  My son threw himself to death because he has been out of work for 3 years.

 

 - Mayor of Tripoli: Illegal immigration is increasing due to the tense financial situation, especially in Tripoli ..Suffering is exacerbating and the role of the state is absent..The port of Tripoli is almost idle, business is very weak, Covid-19 is rampant, and only one government hospital receives cases

 

- A former deputy for Tripoli said: The city did not have a share in the Conference for Economic Development and Reform through Enterprises (CEDRE), and it was not placed on the map of tourism projects prepared by companies commissioned by the government for Tourism Support

 

- Former MP for Tripoli: The neglect of the city helped the activity of the "blood merchants“

 

- advocate activists and "human rights" activists: Illegal immigration is a crime that falls under the forms of "human trafficking" and is punishable by Article 586 penalties

 

- An advocate active in Immigration Affairs in Cyprus said: Cyprus fights against illegal immigration within the framework of European Union laws ... the Cypriot authorities have sent back dozens of Lebanese and Syrian refugees after they tried to reach Europe illegally .. The Cypriot cabinet has drawn up a plan of action regarding illegal immigrants

 

- UN official reveals in an interview with "Egypt today", the role of the United Nations in supporting Lebanon and confronting human trafficking and illegal immigration gangs

 

- Shocking Numbers

 

- 2.5 million immigrants were smuggled in an illegal manner for a financial profit of about 5 billion dollars during 2016 only, according to the report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime issued in 2018

 

30,510 people died at sea between 2014 and 2018, according to the International Organization for Migration report issued in 2019.

 

- 20 illegal immigration boats were seized on the shores of Tripoli during the period from August until September(according to the Lebanese Navy)

 

- 5 million Lebanese pounds paid by the Lebanese immigrants for the costs of the death trip, and prices vary according to the guarantees of safe arrival to European shores

 

- 1,014,836 asylum seekers and (illegal immigrants) arrived in Europe by sea in 2015 (according to the statistics of the International Organization for Migration: Missing Immigrants Project)

 

- 3,772 illegal immigrants died at sea (according to 2015 statistics from the International Organization for Migration)

 

- Cyprus registered 12,000 asylum applications in 2019 (Cyprus Police Service

 

North Lebanon, Tripoli -15 Sep 2020: They spent hours struggling with death and the mighty waves of the sea, hoping to reach European shores, the "dreamland" for those dreaming about the subsistence limit for their children. They gathered the despair of the present and the hopes of the future in bags that they borrowed to buy, and decided to migrate by random boats through Cyprus to Italy and other European countries to face the unknown!

 

The boat, which set sail since days, from the shores of Tripoli in the North Lebanon Governorate, carrying 45 people, did not make it, most of them Lebanese, with some Syrians - heading to the hoped-for European mainland via Cyprus, which is 276 kilometers from Beirut, but they remained lost days in the territorial waters. Death devoured 6 adults and two children, and the rest returned to their homes torn by pain for the loss of their loved ones.

 

This tragedy re-sheds light on issues that may be forgotten in the maze of political life in Lebanon, and raises the alarm due to the exacerbation of the disaster of illegal immigration and its recent increase at an accelerated pace, in conjunction with the intensification of the economic crisis and the great deterioration in the standard of living.

The moment of saving the rest of the immigrants on a boat death
The moment of saving the rest of the immigrants on a boat death

 

“Illegal immigration” also opens festering wounds in the exhausted body of Tripoli...Fayhaa, as it is dubbed, despite being the capital of the North Governorate and the second largest Lebanese city after Beirut and one of the most important cities in the Mediterranean, yet it is one of the poorest cities in Lebanon .. What raises many questions, as random immigration is a symptom of a disease that this city has been suffering for years without the state providing it with a cure. This is what we will try to present in this report..

Death Boat

This boat was not the first story of the "death boats". Rather, it was preceded by several voyages that set off from the same northern shores. Although they differed in some of their details, the end is almost the same. The sea eats some of them while Cyprus authorities returns the survivors, whereas the Lebanese army intensifies its marine patrols to limit the unplanned migration.

Among those trips was a boat that set sail last August carrying dozens of Syrians and Lebanese who were returned to Lebanon by the Cypriot authorities after they reached the shores of Cyprus, and among those on board was the Lebanese youth Shams El Din Kordeli, who spoke in a quavering voice describing his tragedy and those with him on board the boat , saying: “We sell the one above us and the one below us until we go to the sea because we have no other choice. We risk our lives because we in our country cannot find safety.”


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Stories from the heart of the sea

“Poverty is almost a form of blasphemy.” Perhaps this proverb is the most expressive of the situation of those whose tragedies were numerous on board the death boat that set off from the shores of Tripoli recently, among them “Mohamed”, a young man whose body was thrown out by seawater after he kept swimming in the sea for hours, trying to find someone to save him and his companions, but to no avail. He returned a dead body.

"My husband used to work on an ice cream cart and the rent for the house was delayed for 9 months. We have two children who need milk and diapers, including a girl who is sick with immunodeficiency. We used to beg people so that they would take her to the hospital." With these words Soad Mohamed the wife of Shadi Ramadan- one of the people whose bodies were lost on the boat then his dead body was found- told us the circumstances that prompted her husband to emigrate, wiping her tears with her palms as she says: My husband was a diabetic and he could not buy his medicine, and all he used to afford was milk for the kids. "

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 "They guys who returned from the trip said that his blood sugar went down. He was asking for a date , but no one could help him, and his temperature increased, and finally, he threw himself in water hoping to find someone to save them”, added Soad.

 

Children of the "boat of death"

 

Their thin bodies could not bear the hunger and saltiness of sea water, which they had to drink with milk, so they died to be the first victims of the “death trip."

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In the beginning, the parents of the two deceased children, Mohamed and Sufyan, did not lose hope of earning the most basic human rights, which is to bury their children in graves instead of being taken by sea water. They tied the bodies to the boat, hoping to carry them with them if someone managed to save them, but this dream was also unachievable. The rescue did not come, and with the passage of time the unpleasant odors began to emanate from the bodies, so the parents had to throw them into the sea.

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 In Tripoli, and specifically in the Qubba region, one of the poorest neighborhoods of the city, sitting at the door of a dilapidated building, MohamedMohamed Sufyan (23 years), one of the boat survivors after death kidnapped his child Sufyan (two years and four months), he said: «I had to throw my son in the sea after he died of thirst and hunger.. He was screaming, so I filled the bottle with sea water with milk and he drank it all. Then I filled it several time so he can fill his tummy, after which his temperature rose, Sufyan stayed on his mother’s chest until he died, and his mother kept hugging his body for 3 days, after which I had to throw him in the sea.

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"She was looking at Sufyan with regret eating her heart and we were throwing him in the sea. She wanted to hold on to the waves so they won’t take him.” This is how Mohamed described his bereft wife “Oubida’ the mother who lost her baby.

The grieving father tells the details of his story: “I got on the boat, out of desperation as I couldn’t find a job. I was working in a restaurant for two years and lost it because of the economic crisis ... There is nothing I can do, even if I find a job, the salary is not enough for our necessary needs. I could not buy a bag of chips for my son. When I take him out with me, I used to cover his eyes so that he would not see the sweets in the store, his wish before he died was to get a bike that costs 350,000 pounds and I couldn’t afford it. "

 

He continues his story, saying: “I got acquainted with a person named Burhan Atrib, who told me that I will get you an opportunity to travel to Europe. He took my money from me, and after days we took the boat and there we were left. The big sharks Ahmed Safian and Ali Safian are shielded, no one arrested them until this moment »! .. Mohamed blamed the Lebanese officials and politicians for the death of his child.

 

He added: “There is no security in the sea, my mother-in-law reported that there is a lost boat but no one came looking for us. The father continued saying: “I will try again, even if I would die with my wife and the baby she is bearing, we don’t care if we die, we are already dead“

Hunger killed my son!

The story of the child Mohamed Nazer is not much different from the story of Sufyan Mohamed who beat him to death. His father told the same tragedy saying: “I am the father of four children and I can’t afford their education. I used to work as a car mechanic but when job opportunities became scarce I couldn’t buy the essentials... I sold my home furniture to pay for the travel. "

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The words became heavy on the lips of the father, and he said: “My son died in the sea. But if he stayed here, he would die of hunger too.” He continued his story saying “I covered his body and tied him to the boat, then after few days I threw him in the say. Then an Indian guy dies, so we wrote an SOS message and put it in his pocket before we threw him in the sea so if someone finds his body will come rescue us we wrote in the message “We are 45 people on a boat strayed in the regional water, we ran out of fuel and food, whoever reads this message please hurry and save us or report about us“.

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As for "Zainab Al-Qaq," the mother of the child Mohamed, her words are barely fathomable mixed with loud screams from a subdued heart, accusing politicians of killing her child, saying: “You were not satiated with Money. With your greed, you killed my son. I can never forget his voice screaming saying I am hungry mom, I am thirsty I need water, I kept watching his breath until he died...Everyone was waiting for his turn in death and we never imagined we would return. ''

Nazeer's family is not different from the rest of the families, who were driven by despair and poverty to take the risk. Nazeer said: “We are no longer able to afford even food, and the government does not care about us ... we lived terrifying days at sea, but it might have been more compassionate for us than those officials in the country.”

Illegal immigration.. human trafficking

 

 The refugee crisis represents a humanitarian, political, social and economic challenge to Europe, as it has caused breaches of the foundations of European integration, and the common European asylum system has come into question. In 2015, 1,014,836 asylum seekers and illegal immigrants arrived to Europe by sea, while it is believed that about 3,800 died at sea “according to the statistics of the International Organization for Migration” for the year 2015.

 

According to Wadih Al-Asmar, head of the Lebanese Center for Human Rights, to “Egypt today”, the immigration trips have increased significantly recently, and the disaster of the Beirut Port explosion contributed to its popularity, especially in light of the deterioration of the economic situation, and the flights started weekly from Tripoli and the surrounding areas where the living conditions are extremely difficult. El Mina beach in Tripoli is the main starting point for these trips.

 

Al-Asmar pointed out that this crisis is not new to the scene, as in 2015 the cost of the death trip ranged from $ 1,300 to $ 2,500, as prices vary according to guarantees of safe access to European shores, if you pay less, this means that the boat will not take you to the beach, but rather you will have to swim over what looks like a piece of wood for some time in order to hide from the eyes of the coast guards until it reaches the beach.  Europe, especially Germany, is a major target for these after crossing Turkey, Greece, and then Hungary, and they may be exposed to the risk of being shot by the coast police for infirtlating into these lands. What is new in this matter is the attempt of the Lebanese immigrants to reach the shores of Cyprus, which seeks to curb this phenomenon as it causes great concern to them.

 

Asmar continues, saying, in the context of these Cypriot efforts, we learned that an official Cypriot delegation had visited Beirut recently, requesting to stop the migrant boats flowing to the island.

 

Laws criminalizing human trafficking

 

 Activist and lawyer in the field of human rights in Lebanon, Michel Nehme, described the current situation as “catastrophic”. The living conditions are getting worse, and many families see immigration as a logical option, preferring it to the inevitable death of starvation in Lebanon. The proximity of the distance between Lebanon and Cyprus makes it the first choice for them. According to the Lebanese law, this type of migration falls within the forms of the crime of human trafficking, which is punishable by Article 586 Penal Code, because there are merchants who exploit the financial hardship of people and try to lure them with false promises, through trips that do not take into account the conditions of public safety for the people and lead them to death.

 

Nehme explained that migrant smuggling indicates the existence of organized and complex criminal networks in the region that cooperate with similar networks in other countries. There are three main methods used in human trafficking, namely, internal trafficking, regional trafficking and international trafficking. The instability in the region has provided an opportunity for criminal organizations to transport people across maritime borders.

 

Nehme added that Lebanon is a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, according to which the right to a decent life is guaranteed, but the economic situation as a result of the political crisis has contributed to the increase in these crimes, which requires a great awareness of politicians to address the current situation.  In addition, Lebanon is one of the three founding countries that laid down the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, in addition to the UN Protocol in 2000, to combat human trafficking. Lebanon is committed to preventing illegal immigration by signing these international treaties. Security forces and the army are pursuing criminals and applying the penal code to deter the traffickers of innocent lives. It is necessary to organize large awareness campaigns on the dangers of random migration.

 

Cyprus tightens the measures

 

 On the phenomenon of illegal immigration to Cyprus, Maria Athinassiado, the lawyer for immigration affairs in Cyprus, told “Youm 7" that this issue raises the concerns of most European societies, especially southern European countries, including Cyprus, which returned dozens of Lebanese and Syrian refugees after trying to reach Europe in an unorganized way. Cyprus pays great attention to this matter, especially after the escalation of the Lebanese crisis, for fear of the outbreak of a refugee wave from Lebanon to the European continent through the Cypriot coasts, and is discussing with the Lebanese state ways to address the crisis and limit migrant boats after it intercepted 5 boats carrying numbers of migrants in late August. It ranged between 150 and 200 immigrants off its coast, “according to the Cypriot newspaper, Cyprus Mail,” preceded by the return of 33 illegal immigrants to Lebanon by the Cypriot authorities who had arrived in Limassol, Cyprus in early September.

 

Maria added, migration rates have increased during the last three years, and illegal immigration in 2019 recorded an unprecedent number resulting in more than 120,000 asylum applications for migrants, most of them by sea (according to the International Organization for Migration), which prompted Cyprus to ask the European Union to support it in combating illegal immigration. The framework agreed upon with the European Union to create a Union-level authority for migrants will soon be implemented.

 

In order to combat indiscriminate immigration boats, the Cypriot “Ministry of Interior" worked to tighten security measures at the borders and intensify police and army patrols.

 

Regarding the status of illegal immigrants in Cyprus, Maria explains that Cyprus follows the laws and regulations of the European Union regarding the protection of asylum seekers in accordance with international and European law, and most illegal immigrants can benefit after their arrival in Cyprus from the right to asylum and apply for protection, and during that they can work in Specific jobs.

 

The emigration of the Lebanese

 

"Lebanon is a country of immigration in the first place. There are 11 million immigrants of Lebanese origin in the Diaspora" according to unofficial statistics, while the number of Lebanese inside is 4 million. "This is what Diana Meckled, a writer and researcher specializing in human rights affairs, explained, adding that the phenomenon increased during the civil war. After that, Lebanon suffered from instability for long periods, which was reflected in the rates of immigration. However, since the deterioration of the economic conditions and the Beirut explosion, illegal immigration increased, especially from the northern regions such as Tripoli and Akkar, the poorest and most deprived areas.

 

“This phenomenon is active in light of the lack of control and lack of security presence on the shores of Tripoli, as the coast guard exists, but not enough, so that human traffickers find ample room for smuggling, especially in a country with high rates of corruption like Lebanon, where brokers and traffickers resort to deceiving those dreamers of a better life.

 

How are immigrants being treated

 

Regarding the fate of the migrants who are arrested on the beaches of Cyprus, Meckledsaid that according to a report by Human Rights Watch, the Cypriot authorities dealt with them illegally, which caused some of them to drown in the sea, and this is contrary to European laws.

 

Regarding the position of the Lebanese state, Meckledsaid: “Unfortunately, the performance of the state is weak and it was not at the level and magnitude of the disaster. We did not see any serious attempt by it to address the conditions of these people.” She noted that it is expected for unorganized immigration to become worse under the continuous deterioration in economic and politic conditions. The state performance after the disaster of Port Beirut was shocking for everyone.

 

Hajjah Afaf:  My son threw himself to death

 

.. In the list of heartbroken you find Al -Hujjah Afaf, the mother of the young man, Mohamed Khaldun, one of the missing from the Tripoli boat, carrying a picture of her son between her hands all the time. “She couldn’t hold her tears while telling us “He was the only boy with 7 sisters. He was unemployed, and my husband is a taxi driver who doesn’t own a taxi. He went to the sea in the hope of getting a job and send money to his father to buy a taxi. He told me "Mama, I will send you money to buy nerve medication."

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Hajjah Afaf collapsed, saying: “My son threw himself to death because he was unemployed for 3 years...I want him alive and if he is dead I want his body I am begging you!” And she appealed to the state to search for her son.

Mohamed’s sister says: “I gave him a golden chain to sell and pay the rest of the trip, and he handed the money to someone from our area, then I took him to the boat with my 2 cousins” stressing that these trips have become very frequent.

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According to Layal’s account, the father contacted the mediator “Burhan” to get reassured about his son Mohamed, and the answer was: “They arrived in Cyprus, but they were quarantined because of Covid-19 and they had no telephones.” The mediator kept fooling families for days with fabricated images for their residence in Cyprus. Until the father doubted that his son was lost, so he quickly contacted one of the family's acquaintances in Cyprus, who in turn contacted the relevant authorities, to confirm that the boat did not enter the Cypriot waters, after which the relevant authorities in Lebanon moved to search for him, so that after days, the people received the news of finding the boat carrying their children in the territorial waters, but some of them were dead and missing.

 

"Until now, the state has not been interested in contacting the embassies of other countries to search for the missing in its borders, and the navy is not interested in searching for them ... the people have no one else but our Lord.”.

 

The Boat Champion

 

Ibrahim Lashin, 29 years old, the hero who saved the lives of the rest of those stranded in the sea on the boat of death, but his desire to die is greater than his desire for life. He said “ I borrowed money, and sold the furniture of my house to travel, but we were dealing with blood dealers, but I will try to get on a second boat ... because I am living in Lebanon, without in hope in my country, I am a living dead without hope in my country!”

Ibrahim Lashin
Ibrahim Lashin

 

Ibrahim continued, saying: “The majority of those on the boat borrowed the money or sold their home furniture in order to secure the required amount for the immigration mediator...the smugglers took 5 million pounds from each passenger, and the boat set off from the Minya area. We were 45 people on an area of 11 meters, and as soon as we boarded, they took our luggage from us. The bags in which we had food, water and telephones were in it, under the pretext of reducing the load on the boat, on the basis that we will find a large boat at a distance of 200 meters to complete the rest of the trip, after that we lost our way back and got lost. "

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He continues, saying: “We were lost for 5 days in the sea without eating or drinking, and adults and children started to die. Then I decided to jump in the sea and kept swimming for two days, I had hope that I would find someone who can save the boat. Thank God I found a boat belonging to the UNIFIL forces”


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Regarding the painful moments that these people lived on the boat, he said: “We were struggling with death and waiting for it! ... We were shocked by the death of the first child, and the next day a second child died, after which the deaths followed and we lost hope...We were in the waters from the north to the south with no trace for border guards“.

Ibrahim, who is still trying to recover from the psychological trauma and the effects of fish bites in his body, confirmed that he was not afraid of death. He added: “We already die in our country one thousand times a day...for 5 years, I did not find work because I did not belong to a political party, and although Tripoli has the richest politicians in Lebanon, but we cannot afford food. Death among the predatory fish was easier for me than death at the hands of the politicians. I tried to commit suicide in the sea 3 times».

أجزاء من رسالة الاستغاثة
 

Ibrahim added, "We are from the Qubbah region, and the smugglers are Burhan al-Atrib, whose surname is Abu Hamad, Ahmed Soufan, and Ali Soufan, and until now they have not been arrested."

 

The forgotten wounds of "Al-Fayhaa"

 

“Tripoli or Al-Fayhaa was the second city after Cairo in the Mamluk antiquities, but its importance in international trade increased .. With the period of Lebanon’s independence, its importance declined in front of Beirut and began to deteriorate until it became the poorest city in Lebanon.” With these words, Riad Yameq, the mayor of Tripoli, began speaking to “Egypt today", stressing that the current situation of the city is in crisis and one of the factors that led to this is the Syria war that broke out 5 years ago. There are about 30 kilometers of shared coastline between Syria and Tripoli, and the conditions of war pushed 50 thousand Syrian refugees to Tripoli, with limited capabilities. For the city, especially since the port of Tripoli is almost idle as it works poorly, because the state’s policy is to pay attention to the port of Beirut, then the Corona pandemic came to worsen the situation, followed by the explosion, which led to an increase in the unemployment rate in the city, exceeding 50% and is still rising.

 

Regarding the phenomenon of illegal immigration, Yameq said: “It has existed for years, but it was not discovered and was carried out by the Syrians, and recently, after the worsening of economic conditions, the Lebanese have come to accept it, especially from the areas of“ Bab al-Raml, Bab al-Tabbaneh, al-Qubba, and al-Haddadin. ” The state is absent and the extent of suffering increases daily, which is clearly reflected on families, as the rates of divorce and domestic violence have risen, and the greater their suffering, the more popular the illegal immigration trade becomes, as the last accident two days preceded the discovery of a boat carrying nearly 80 migrants.

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Yamen pointed out that the army and the coast guard are entrusted with controlling smuggling operations, but it is difficult to control them because the boats set out from the ports of the fishermen and are unattended and others. As for the health conditions in the city, he said that Covid-19 is rampant in light of the existence of one government hospital to receive the injured, with a capacity of 40 beds and 9 artificial respirators, in addition to another 50 beds distributed among some private hospitals that contain a total of 35 respirators. Regarding the increasing number of cases we are working on preparing a hotel that can accommodate 150 patients, in cooperation with the Red Cross, to allocate it for Covid-19 cases.

The Neglected North!

The former MP for Tripoli, Misbah Al-Ahdab, confirmed that northern Lebanon, including the city of Tripoli, is neglected and suffers a breakdown in all institutions and has no minimum services. Even Tripoli did not have a share in the international community’s plan to restore Lebanon’s renaissance, which he called "Sidr", and did not Tourism projects are being put on the map by state companies to prepare a tourism renaissance plan, although it is rich in Byzantine, Fatimid and Mamluk antiquities, as the north has a political vacuum and the political forces consider "Tripoli" a military zone that is run through armed groups affiliated with them.

 

Al-Ahdab added that the neglect in the city helped the activity of the "blood merchants" who organize illegal immigration trips, with cover by some politicians, deceiving young people and getting money from them in exchange for securing the "fake" trip and giving them an appointment on one of the islands in Tripoli, then it ends. Their relationship with these young men as soon as they disembark the boat, to be surprised that it lacks the minimum equipment, and this may happen without the state's knowledge.

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 The incident caused a sensation, and there are embassies of some European countries interfering to push the Lebanese state to work harder on curbing this business and tighten their hold on those responsible for such business.

Beach control

Security official in Lebanon confirmed to "egypt today" that the security forces have taken the necessary measures to prosecute the accused in migrant boat accidents, and have succeeded in arresting a number of Tripoli tour brokers, and the plans of a number of merchants have been stopped and thwarted while preparing for a number of random trips. 

The security official emphasized during his statement that the phenomenon of illegal immigration was not floating on the surface of this size until after the aggravation of the economic crisis, explaining that this crime falls under "human trafficking" and the Internal Security Agency has an independent department to combat this type of crime.

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Regarding the measures that will be taken to curb this crime, he said, we are looking at tightening patrols on the beaches and the port of Tripoli, but there is a very large area of beaches that are difficult to monitor and secure, especially since these operations are carried out through private fishermen's ports.

The Commander of the Lebanese Navy Forces, Colonel Haitham Dennawi, confirmed to “Egypt today" that illegal immigration trips are the biggest challenge at present as they require speed of movement in all climatic conditions, and their activity increased dramatically after the August 4 explosion. In this context the navy forces managed to seize about 20 boats and arresting 596 people until now. The Navy forces has intensified its patrols to monitor the beaches and regional waters, and in the event that there is a violating boat, it is towed to the nearest port with providing the necessary health care to those in need. Then they are handed over to the competent authorities, and all patrol operations are supported with a radar network along the shore, in addition to collecting security information continuously on smuggling operations, 5 human trafficking operations were recently thwarted through rickety boats, adding that the security services are tracking merchants and brokers who facilitate these activities that endanger people's lives on boats that lack minimum levels of safety conditions. They are arrested and handed over to the competent authorities.

 

Denna wistressed that Lebanon, like other countries, faces many challenges related to monitoring beaches, protecting regional waters from any threats, and tracking human smuggling operations, and the responsibility is shared between the naval forces and a number of concerned parties, in addition to intensifying patrols in the waters in search of the missing..

 

The security services in Lebanon are still investigating incidents of illegal immigration to reach the perpetrators ... Amid suspicions that officials in the Lebanese state provide cover for blood traders ... Will the concerned authorities take decisive measures to save the rest from the clutches of the sea?

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UN official reveals in an interview with "Egypt today", the role of the United Nations in supporting Lebanon and confronting human trafficking and illegal immigration gangs

 

 

To find out about the role of the United Nations in combating the indiscriminate migration trade in general, and to support Lebanon in particular, in confronting this crime, we met with Christina Albertan, the regional representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in the Middle East and North Africa, and follows is the summary of the dialogue:

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On international laws that criminalize random migration, it clarifies that illegal immigration is a form of human trafficking, which means recruiting or transferring people under threat and fraud, for the purpose of sexual exploitation, forced labor or forced service, and in Lebanon the most common types of trafficking are sexual, financial and forced exploitation. Household.

Albertine points to the multiplicity of conventions and protocols related to the crime of human trafficking within the framework of international law, the most important of which is the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the protocols attached thereto, including the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, and the Protocol to Combat Migrant Smuggling, which entered into force in 2003 and 2004.

 

Albertine explains that there are still no statistics on illegal immigration for the year 2020, and this may be due to the difficulties facing countries as a result of the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.

 

As for the role of the United Nations in combating illegal migration, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is charged with supporting states in implementing the migrant smuggling protocol and supporting the efforts of governments in investigating cases of migrant smuggling and confronting international criminal networks that reap huge profits from that trade and controlling its elements, in addition to Supporting member states by providing the necessary means to undermine this crime through education and awareness programs and projects aimed at expanding the labor market, and strengthening national capacities to control human trafficking crimes in all its forms.

 

 On the humanitarian level, we assist and support victims of trafficking on all levels, and strengthen international cooperation in criminal matters between states parties to bring the perpetrators to trial.

 

Albertan also stressed that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime places the protection of the rights and safety of smuggled migrants at the heart of its response, especially since such crimes endanger the lives of these people.

 

 With regard to Lebanon specifically, Albertine says: “Economic difficulties make a person more vulnerable to exploitation. The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law in Lebanon No. 164 of 2011 criminalizes human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labor and others. The National Steering Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons coordinates efforts to combat trafficking, and it has Hotlines operated by the Ministry of Labor to receive reports on the exploitative treatment of migrant workers, including treatment that amounts to trafficking in persons, and the office works with member states to activate the provisions of the United Nations Protocol to punish human traffickers.

 

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime provides Lebanon with technical support to develop national legislation to combat the phenomenon of human trafficking, improve protection and assistance measures for victims, and strengthen the capacity of "criminal justice" to address crime.

 

"We will soon implement a project funded by Switzerland to support the efforts of the Lebanese state to identify cases of trafficking in persons, especially those affecting refugees, and to refer for protection and investigation of receiving cases.” added Albertine.

 

 With regard to the recent incident that occurred on board a migration boat in Tripoli, it clarifies that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime supports Lebanon's efforts in investigating cases of migrant smuggling and combating the illegal actions of transnational gangs and criminal entities, and the office also works with international agencies such as the International Organization for Migration. And local partners to provide technical support to the Lebanese authorities in adopting standard operating procedures to identify and support victims, and to strengthen cooperation between countries to combat these crimes, as migrant smuggling is a cross-border crime.

 

This article is part of a series of articles on Lebanon by Iman Hanna. Hanna has taken a 30-day trip to monitor the crises in Lebanon and  the suffering of the people.

 

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