Bodies of some of the victims who died when a boat carrying migrants sank off the Syrian coast this week were returned to Lebanon in ambulances on Friday to the sound of sirens, sorrow and hails of gunfire.
At least 77 people were killed when the boat carrying migrants from Lebanon capsized, the country’s health minister said, amid fears the death toll could be far higher.
Among the dead were Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese attempting to flee crisis-hit Lebanon, to reach Cyprus by sea for a better future in Europe.
Around twenty migrants who managed to survive the shipwreck are now being cared for in Syria.
Desperate to flee
Despite the agony felt by families of the victims, some people in Lebanon say they would still be willing to make such perilous journies to escape the conditions in the region.
“They reached a point where they wanted to die at sea”, said Salim Khalaf, whose brother and cousin are still missing. “If the boat came here now I would go. I would go.”
Tens of thousands have lost their jobs while the Lebanese pound has dropped more than 90% in value, eradicating the purchasing power of thousands of families that now live in extreme poverty.