Fatima al-Moussa’s heart sank the minute her brother Ismail told her of his fateful decision to try to leave their makeshift refugee camp in Lebanon and find a new life in Europe.
“I knew in my heart something was going to happen to him,” she says. “When he left, I said goodbye to him several times because – I knew.”
Born and raised in the Beddawi refugee camp in northern Lebanon, 35-year-old Ismail, a jobless and desperate Palestinian refugee, couldn’t take life in Lebanon any longer. With no work, no wife, no children, and nowhere else to turn, he paid a smuggler to get him to Europe.
“It got so bad for him,” explains Fatima, with tears in her eyes. “He sold his house cheaply just so he could leave. They made him think the trip would be safe, that food was guaranteed, that he’d be in a 5-star hotel”.
Contact from Ismail was erratic, but he sent text messages whenever he could.
His first stop was Sudan. “He got there,” says Fatima bitterly, “and they put him up in a room that animals wouldn’t stay in.”
After reaching Libya in March, Ismail boarded a boat bound for Italy. During that treacherous journey across the Mediterranean, the boat capsized and Ismail drowned.
“I still can’t believe he’s dead,” adds his grief-stricken sister.
After Ismail’s death, friends and relatives in Lebanon gathered to pay their respects. They threw flowers into the sea to commemorate Ismail and so many others like him: Syrians and Palestinians who’d thought they were on a journey of hope, but who ended up on a voyage of death.
- Pray for the Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, most living in desperate conditions of poverty and with little hope for any return to their home countries.
- Pray for the millions who seek a better life in Europe and become targets of people smugglers and human traffickers.
- Pray for those whose family members have died trying to reach Europe, that they will find comfort in their grief.
- Pray for Christians in Lebanon and those working amongst the refugees, that they will be channels of hope and of the Love of God to these desperate people, and that many will come to know Christ.
Psalm 72 vs 12-14: “For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.