BEIRUT: A group of 16 Lebanese individuals including some who were staying illegally in Indonesia will return with a political delegation Tuesday, but the bodies of those who perished in the sinking of the ferry off the country’s coast will have to wait for the results of DNA tests. Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said a plane carrying the group would return at 6 p.m. It will likely include some Lebanese citizens who did not embark on the boat destined for Australia that sank last month and were waiting for another opportunity to travel there illegally.
The government had previously called on the individuals to come forth so they could travel back to Lebanon. Mansour said that those who were traveling with the delegation had their fines paid and their statuses fixed.
Eighteen Lebanese survivors of the ferry tragedy arrived in the Rafik Hariri International Airport Sunday morning. The ferry had departed from Indonesia carrying some 72 passengers hoping to reach Australian shores, but sank after getting lost at sea. Eighteen of the 28 survivors are Lebanese.
Some of the bodies have not been repatriated pending DNA tests.
Politicians continued to lament the tragedy, arguing that the state’s failure had forced the migrants to leave.
Amine Gemayel, leader of the Kataeb party, said the incident “reveals the Lebanese individual’s tragedy,” and that the failure of Lebanese institutions comes at the expense of citizens.
Former head of the Internal Security Forces Ashraf Rifi said the state had failed Akkar and areas of north Lebanon that the migrants left.
“We must look at the deep causes of the tragedy, which would not have happened if our people felt they could create a future in their nation,” he said.
A coordination committee of March 8 political parties that includes Hezbollah and the Amal movement said the tragedy was a result of the poverty in the villages of Akkar, and the inability of the state to promote economic and social development in the area.