Lebanon And Cyprus Are Now Cooperating To End Illegal Sea Crossings

@MinInteriorCY (Twitter) | Picture-alliance/dpa/F.Heinz

On Tuesday, Lebanon’s chief of General Security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, was in Cyprus to meet with Cypriot Interior Minister, Nicos Nouris.

In the meeting, Lebanon and Cyprus agreed to cooperate more closely and strengthen efforts to tackle the illegal sea crossings from Lebanon to Cyprus.

Over the past two months, more than a dozen boats set off the Lebanese coasts for Cyprus carrying Lebanese nationals, Syrian refugees, and even migrant workers from Bangladesh or India.

All fleeing the decaying situation in Lebanon in search for a better life.

In the meeting, Nouris denied the allegations of the Human Rights Watch that Cyprus threatened and beat the migrants who arrived in Cyprus illegally.

Cyprus was accused of not taking in asylum-seekers. Rather it sent them back or left them at see, notably, with basic necessities to keep them hydrated and fed. 

F’or many others, however, the journey was their last.

After paying hefty fees to smugglers, migrants set sail aboard unsafe, crowded boats – death boats – only to get stranded in the middle of the sea without food, water, or any of their belongings. 

Smugglers seemingly abandoned them, taking their money and possessions. Stranded for days on end, dozens have died aboard these dangerous sea crossings, including infants. 

Tragically, many deceased bodies have been washing up to shore.

Even after these stories of death, people are still risking their lives to get out of Lebanon. Just days ago, the Lebanese army stopped 37 people, including women and children, from fleeing to Cyprus.

To officially put an end to these illegal crossings, both Lebanese and Cypriot authorities, along with naval forces, agreed to intercept any future migrant boats leaving the coast of Lebanon. 

Both countries will also seek assistance from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex.