Dozens of Lebanese seek asylum in Spain during flight stopover

Visas for EU countries have become increasingly difficult to obtain

Spanish authorities say 39 Lebanese citizens sought asylum in Spain during a stopover at Barcelona airport.

The asylum applications were made when a flight from Cairo to Quito, Bolivia, made a scheduled stop at El Prat Airport on Monday, officials told AFP.

When the plane landed, the group “did not continue [their journey] and asked for asylum”.

They said the group was being held in the airport and provided with basic services.

Spanish news agency EFE said the group were Lebanese nationals of Palestinian origin.

Lebanon's ambassador to Spain, Hala Keyrouz, told the MTV news channel that Spanish authorities had not provided further information about the incident.

"We are trying to find out additional details about the Lebanese requesting asylum at the Spanish airport, but the Spanish Foreign Ministry refuses to provide us with any information," MTV quoted her as saying.

A punishing economic and political crisis in Lebanon has forced thousands to leave the country in the past two years – yet obtaining EU, and Schengen visas has become increasingly difficult for Lebanese citizens. Since 2019, the country has been suffering from an economic crisis described by the UN as one of the worst in history.

The Gulf, a long-time second home for many Lebanese, has also become increasingly difficult following a diplomatic spat last month, which saw Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE pull their ambassadors from Beirut.

An increasing number of people are attempting to reach Cyprus and Italy by boat from the northern city of Tripoli. In October, the Lebanese Army announced it had intercepted a boat carrying 54 people, including 20 children bound for Cyprus.

Updated: November 19th 2021, 11:55 AM