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Hezbollah chief warns of plots to plunge Lebanon into strife after boat tragedy

The secretary-general of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, speaks during a speech in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut on April 25, 2022, on the occasion of Laylat al-Qadr or the Night of Destiny. (Photo by Lebanon’s al-Manar television network)

The secretary-general of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement has warned of a slide towards violence in a country grappling with a major economic crisis after at least six people, including a child, died as a boat carrying dozens of migrants sank in the eastern Mediterranean.

“We must not allow anyone to take the country to strife, and this incident must be addressed at the national level,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said during a speech in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut on Sunday evening.

He made the remarks on the occasion of Laylat al-Qadr or the Night of Destiny – a holy night during the last 10 days of the holy month Ramadan in which the first verses of the Holy Qur’an were revealed to Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) some 14 centuries ago.

“All of the elements of the investigation are known and hurrying up in the probe is the least duty that one can do,” the Hezbollah leader added.

Nasrallah also called on the government to “stand by the victims’ families.”

Earlier on Sunday, at least six people died and 48 people were rescued after a boat carrying about 60 migrants sank off the coast of Lebanon.

“The army’s naval forces managed to rescue 48 people and retrieve the body of a dead girl … from a boat that sank while trying to illegally smuggle them out,” the army said in a statement.

“Most people on board were rescued,” the army said, without specifying their nationalities.

The army retrieved five corpses off Tripoli’s coast, the state-run National News Agency reported, hours after the body of a little girl was returned to shore.

The latest incident stoked public anger in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second city and one of its poorest.

Since late 2019, Lebanon has been mired in a deep financial crisis that has caused the Lebanese pound to lose around 90 percent of its value to the US dollar and led its banking system to collapse, plunging the bulk of Lebanese into poverty.

The economic and financial crisis is mostly linked to the sanctions that the United States and its allies have imposed on Lebanon as well as foreign intervention in the Arab nation’s domestic affairs.

The United Nations refugee agency says at least 1,570 people, 186 of them Lebanese, left or tried to leave by sea from Lebanon between January and November 2021.

Most were hoping to reach the island country and European Union member state of Cyprus, which lies 175 kilometers (109 miles) away.

Most of those trying to leave Lebanon by sea are Syrian refugees, but Lebanese nationals have increasingly joined them.

Hezbollah offers condolences to victims’ families

Moreover, Hezbollah expressed its deepest condolences over the Tripoli boat tragedy and described the disaster as a manifestation of Lebanon’s financial and economic crisis caused by decades of flawed policies, neglect of public demands, and deprivation of people’s rights.

Hezbollah termed the incident a wake-up call, calling on senior Lebanese officials and all political parties to collaborate and maintain social solidarity in order to cope with the repercussions of the ordeal.

The resistance movement called for a quick, transparent, and impartial investigation in order to disclose the circumstances surrounding the accident and those responsible.

Hezbollah finally called on state authorities to provide the victims’ families with all the forms of support.

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