Connect with us

News

More than 70 dead after boat carrying migrants sinks off Syria

Published

on

Dozens of people have died after a boat carrying migrants and refugees from Lebanon capsized off Syria’s coast, according to the Syrian and Lebanese governments.On Friday, the Lebanese transport minister said that 71 people had died in Thursday’s disaster.The Syrian government had previously said that 20 survivors were being treated in Basel hospital in Tartous.The Syrian transport ministry cited survivors as saying the boat left from Lebanon’s northern Minyeh region on Tuesday with between 120 and 150 people onboard.

Samer Qubrusli, the Syrian director general of ports, said search operations were ongoing on Friday. He had previously said that rough seas and strong winds had made the rescue operation difficult.The incident is one of the deadliest since a surging number of Lebanese, Syrians, and Palestinians have tried to flee crisis-hit Lebanon by sea to Europe.

Some of those who died on the boat were from Akkar, an impoverished region in the far north of Lebanon.Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr visited the home of a family whose relatives were on board, as people gathered to pay their respects.

The family had buried two young girls on Friday morning, and were still waiting for news about the fate of the girls’ two brothers, as well as their mother. The father is in hospital across the border in Syria.

“There’s a lot of grief here, people are in shock,” said Khodr. “They don’t understand why they don’t have much more information.”

Family members had explained to Khodr that the father had decided to try to go to Europe, despite the risks, because of the ongoing financial crisis in Lebanon, and the lack of opportunities there.

“We’ve spoken to people who’ve survived being in a boat that capsized and what they tell us is we’re going to keep doing it again and again, because there are no jobs,” Khodr added.

In Lebanon alone, tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs and the Lebanese pound has dropped more than 90 percent of its value, eradicating the purchasing power of thousands of families that now live in extreme poverty.

Tartous Governor Abdulhalim Khalil reportedly visited survivors at the hospital.It was not immediately clear how many people were on board and where exactly were they heading, but the coastguard is still searching for bodies.State media said the boat was carrying people of different nationalities.

Thousands of Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians have left Lebanon on boats over the past months seeking better opportunities in Europe.Lebanon has a population of six million, including one million Syrian refugees, and has been in the grips of a severe economic meltdown since late 2019 that has pulled more than three-quarters of the population into poverty.

In April, a boat carrying dozens of Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians trying to migrate by sea to Italy went down more than 5km (3 miles) from the port of Tripoli, following a confrontation with the Lebanese navy. Dozens were killed in the incident.Migrants have been leaving the country from the northern Lebanese coast. On Thursday, Lebanese officials said naval forces rescued a boat carrying 55 migrants and refugees after it faced technical problems 11km (6 nautical miles) off the coast of the northern region of Akkar. It said the people rescued included two pregnant women and two children. Source: Al Jazeera



Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

JVP accuses EC of conspiring to delay LG polls

Published

on

By Saman Indrajith

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, MP, has told Parliament that the Election Commission and its Chairman are collaborating with the government to postpone the local government elections.

Participating in the Third Reading stage debate on Budget 2023, on Friday, MP Dissanayake said that as local government bodies should be reconstituted before March 20 2023, the Election Commission had to publish a gazette calling nominations by late December or early January.

“The EC has the authority to do so. It has sought the Attorney General’s opinion on some matters. There is no need at all for it to seek the AG’s advice,” he said.

“This is a conspiracy. The Elections Commission can publish the gazette even tomorrow. It is clear that the Elections Commission is collaborating with the government,” he said.

Dissnayake said that Election Commissioner Nimal Punchihewa’s impartiality was in question. “We know where Punchihewa worked before and at what party office. We know the governments and persons he has worked with closely. He is not an independent person.”

Continue Reading

News

Diana wants bars open 24/7

Published

on

By Saman Indrajith

State Tourism Minister Diana Gamage says liquor outlets should be kept open longer if the country wants to boost tourism.Participating in the Third Reading stage debate on Budget 2023 on Friday, State Minister Gamage said: “We have to keep these places open 24/7. I have spoken about it many times. Liquor is the highest tax earner in the country. In this paradise, we are closing bars after 11pm. Foreigners in hotels can’t get any alcohol if they need, because all the places are closed.

We need to keep this country open 24 hours. Like Singapore and other countries, people must have entertainment.”

“I talk about the night life, and when I talked about that earlier many criticized it and saw it as a big sin. That is ones who are incapable of understanding it,” she said.

“What we call night life is actually a night economy. All the countries in the world have developed because of night economy. These countries get 70 percent of their income from the nigh economy. They only get 30 percent during the day time. We have to develop a night economy in this country. That will earn 70 percent of the income. Only that can develop this country.

“We can do that. And also our museum, that closes at 5 pm. In other countries, museums earn most during night. It must be opened 24/7.  This night economy is essential for a country’s economy. People must have places to spend their money.”

Continue Reading

News

SJB asks govt. to introduce political reforms fast

Published

on

By Saman Indrajith

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has asked the government when it will introduce the political reforms demanded by the international community.

Speaking in Parliament on Saturday, Kiriella said that when the Opposition parties met the members of the Colombo-based diplomatic community during the Aragalaya protests, the latter had demanded that Sri Lanka implement political and economic reforms to receive foreign assistance to get out of the prevailing crisis. “That was six months ago. We have been asking the government repeatedly to inform this House whether it has implemented those reforms.

“The riginal plan was to establish an interim government for six months to restore the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. It was stated that an election would be held after six months. Now, what has happened? The politicians who are responsible for the crisis are still in power.

“Foreign Minister Al Sabry met USAID Administrator Samantha Power on Friday. Samantha Power called for the same political and economic reforms again. The international community is asking for the same.”

Leader of the House, Minister Susil Premjayantha said that political reforms were being implemented. “It is as part of the political reforms we are setting up a National Council, Sectoral Oversight Committees and three other committees. Counter terrorism act is in the pipeline. It will be taken up within couple of weeks. We passed several bills with your support. There were nine amendments to be introduced to the criminal law,” he said.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa: “The bills and amendments that have been passed are not enough as far as the international community and we are concerned. The biggest request is to allow the people of this country for a new mandate. Allow the people to express their will. Give them a chance to establish a new government or to maintain the same government now they have.”

Continue Reading

Trending