Beyond the Headlines: the desperation that drove migrants from Lebanon to death at sea

Late one Saturday night towards the end of April, a boat set out to sea from the coast near Lebanon’s second city, Tripoli. It was an ageing craft, nearly 50 years old, built to hold maybe a dozen people, at a push. But on this voyage it was carrying perhaps 60, possibly as many as 80.

Among those on board were Amid Dandachi, his wife and their three children. In all, about 22 members of the extended Dandachi family were on the boat. The family are from the suburb of Qibbe, one of Tripoli’s poorest neighbourhoods. And Tripoli is one of Lebanon’s poorest cities. With Lebanon in the midst of an economic crisis, the family hoped that heading west would offer them a better future

But only an hour or two after they left shore, the boat was intercepted. Lebanese naval forces demanded it turn back. Mr Dandachi said the boat’s helmsman tried to make a break for it but the navy crashed into the overcrowded craft towards the bow, splitting the hull. At least six people died and approximately 30 are still missing.

On this week's Beyond The Headlines, Finbar Anderson looks at the tragedy of the shipwreck off Tripoli, and how it is an all too familiar fate for thousands trying to reach a better life in Europe.

Funeral of the victims of boat sinking in Lebanon — in pictures

Updated: May 19, 2022, 5:21 AM