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UN peacekeepers rescue 36 migrants outside Lebanese waters

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It did not indicate where the ship was heading. Some Lebanese have been trying to flee the small Mediterranean nation recently, as Lebanon has been rocked by numerous crises, including its worst economic and financial crisis in decades.

Tens of thousands have lost their jobs over the past year as the local currency, the Lebanese pound, lost nearly 80% of its value, plunging half of the country’s population into poverty.

Survivors were provided with immediate medical assistance aboard the UNIFIL Naval Task Force before being transferred to Lebanese authorities, the UN force said. He added that the UNIFILs ship was on its way to the Port of Beirut.

Last week, authorities in Cyprus said they were alerted to the arrival of four ships carrying Syrian and Lebanese migrants in waters off its coastline. European Union member Cyprus and Lebanon have an agreement to prevent migrants from reaching the island country.

Lebanon, a country of 5 million, is also home to nearly 1 million Syrian refugees, as well as tens of thousands of Palestinians.

Over the past years, hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees have fled the civil war in their home countries, seeking a sanctuary in EU countries. Most Syrians have reached Europe through Turkey.

Lebanese naval forces in the past have prevented ships carrying migrants from leaving Lebanon, but the force has been overloaded since the August 4 explosion at the port of Beirut that killed at least 190 and injured thousands. Most of the port was destroyed.

UNIFIL Commander Major General Stefano Del Col said peacekeepers were doing their best to save the lives of these people and that their priority was to ensure the safety of all 36 people we had just rescued.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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