Over the past few months, hundreds of Lebanese people have flown two hundred kilometers separating their country from the island of Cyprus, albeit temporarily cut off from electricity, shortages to escape from the crisis in their country such as fuel and medicine, and the horizon blocked.
Although it was not more than 25 minutes after the eagerly awaited flight, the Lebanese woman, Nanur Abashian, 30, with her husband and two children, left Beirut at Larnaca Airport, pulling seven bags, most of them adults. “My pain is so great that I have left my country and my family, but I feel compelled to do so because I want to raise my children with respect and dignity and ensure their future,” he told AFP.
Lebanon has seen a severe economic crisis for nearly two years, with the World Bank listing the worst in the world since 1850. The exchange rate of the Lebanese pound is over ninety percent, and many have lost their jobs. At the same time, electricity is cut off during the day and night, and there is no diesel on the market to run the generators. It is reflected in all aspects of life. The country also sees crises in medicine, bread and other basic necessities.
Thousands of Lebanese people fled the country following the crisis. Many of them chose Cyprus because there was no official census yet, and some entered with a non-Lebanese passport.
But the Lebanese ambassador to Cyprus, Claude al-Hazal, confirmed to AFP that since October 2019, as popular protests against the political class erupted in Lebanon, “we have noticed a significant increase in the number of family files opened at the embassy. We recorded the largest increase since the August eruption in the port of Beirut More than two hundred were killed and six thousand wounded and destroyed parts of the capital.
Claudia El Hazel, Lebanese Ambassador to Cyprus
This is not the first time that Lebanese have taken refuge in Cyprus. During the Civil War (1975-1990), large numbers of them fled to the island, most of them returning home after the war.
“In the 1980s, 100,000 family files were registered at the embassy,” al-Hajal said.
Moreover, during the July 2006 war between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah, Cyprus was the backbone of Lebanon. In light of the closure of the Beirut airport, which was bombed by Israel, ships departing from Beirut departed and took foreigners to the island to return to their home countries. It also took the Lebanese people who had temporarily lived in Cyprus until the end of the military operation.
Two days before the Agenz France-Press trip to Cyprus, Nanur’s family met in the north of Beirut. “We decided to leave Lebanon because we no longer feel safe … we are in a state of ignorance, we live in disgrace,” the young mother said, packing her belongings that day.
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