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Lebanon Asylum Seeker Boat Tragedy Sparks Misinformation Online

Dina Faisal Dina Faisal
28th September 2022
Lebanon Asylum Seeker Boat Tragedy Sparks Misinformation Online
Misbar debunked false claims linked to the Tatrus incident (Facebook).

On September 22, 2022, a boat carrying refugees from Lebanon sank off the coast of Syria. According to Syria's health minister, at least 94 refugees on the boat died. Refugees from Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine were on the fateful boat.

Online sympathy and a lot of misleading information were generated by the unfortunate incident. 

Tartus Boat Drowning Misinformation

Misbar debunked a series of misleading and outdated videos and photos that were circulating on Twitter, Facebook, and Tiktok. 

The Tartus incident was also misleadingly linked to the following series of photos.

For example, this image from 2015 has lately surfaced online, purporting to show the Tartus incident.

It depicts Turkish migrants arriving in Skala, Lesbos, in November 2015.

A supporting image within the article body

A photo of a father crying while hugging his children on the Greek island of Kos on August 15, 2015, has also been attributed to the recent incident.

A supporting image within the article body

A screenshot from a Tiktok video with the caption "nothing left but a shoe" purported to be from Tartus.

A supporting image within the article body

This photo was originally a sketch that was made by the creator, Abu Hamid. The actor Abu Hamid produced this video to advocate for immigrants and refugees.

A supporting image within the article body

Another photo misleadingly linked to the Tartus boat's demise was taken in June 2014. The photo depicts migrants crossing the Mediterranean at the time.

Migrant Crisis

Due to Lebanon's deteriorating standard of living and a complacent government, there has also been an increase in people attempting to flee illegally to Europe by sea via smugglers. According to the United Nations, this figure will have increased by 70% by 2022. On September 22, one of the boats carrying migrants and asylum seekers sank off the coast of Tartus in Western Syria, near the Lebanese-Syrian border. The boat, which was carrying between 120 and 150 people, mostly Lebanese, Syrians, and Palestinians, had left Lebanon for Europe when it sank, killing at least 94 people. 

Expected Increase in Immigration 

There have been approximately 155,090 irregular entries into European countries since July 2022, representing an 86% increase over the same period last year. Despite the risks and an increase in far-right anti-immigrant policies in Europe, illegal immigration through the Mediterranean is increasing.

Lebanon Suffers Worst Economic Crisis in 150 Years

As of early 2019, 80% of Lebanon's population was living on less than $2 a day due to the country's financial and economic collapse, which saw inflation soar and depositors' funds become inaccessible. Since then, the situation has only deteriorated, prompting citizens to seek alternative employment opportunities. Emigration rose 446% since the beginning of the year. In 2020, there were 17,721 Lebanese immigrants; by 2021, the figure had risen to 79,134, the highest in five years.

Misbar’s Sources

Beirut Today
The Guardian
Al Jazeera

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