Many well-off Lebanese have swapped their country’s economic tailspin for a new life in nearby Cyprus.
They are grateful they did not have to turn to human smugglers and embark on risky Mediterranean crossings to reach European shores. But they also feel guilty for leaving family and friends behind to struggle with Lebanon’s unprecedented crises – a failing economy, political uncertainty and social upheaval.
In the past two years more than 12,000 Lebanese have left their homeland for Cyprus – less than a 50-minute flight from Beirut – enrolling their kids in schools, setting up businesses and snapping up apartments on the island.
Thousands of Lebanese, including teachers, doctors and nurses, have left the country amid a devastating economic crisis that has thrown two-thirds of the country’s population into poverty since October 2019.
EU member Cyprus is an attractive option for its proximity and the facilities it offers – including residency for a certain level of investment. As Lebanese banks clamped down on deposits, many sought to open bank accounts in Cyprus or buy apartments as a way to free up their money.