Update: MAP’s emergency response to the Beirut explosion

The permanent team of Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) in Lebanon has been responding with local partners to the massive explosion on 4 August which devastated much of Beirut. More than 220 people are known to have died and 7,000 have been injured.

One of our local partners, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), sent its ambulances and volunteers to support rescue efforts and treated dozens of wounded Palestinians, Syrian and Lebanese people at Haifa Hospital in Beirut’s Burj el Barajneh refugee camp.

PRCS ambulance driver Ajmal told MAP: “It was difficult driving, with rubble on the streets blocking our way. The destruction and number of injuries was unbelievable.”

Many Burj el Barajneh residents came forward to donate blood.

Ibrahim, a PRCS pharmacist, was inside Haifa Hospital: “I was called to the hospital as the emergency room stock was running out and they needed supplies from our reserves. Some of the wounds were simple but others were complicated, such as one which needed five different threads to suture. Thanks to all who have helped us secure medicines and medical supplies.” ​

In the days following the explosion, Palestinian and Lebanese volunteers have worked hand in hand to clear streets and homes of debris.

MAP’s partner Naba’a has provided food parcels to affected families. An estimated 300,000 people, including 80,000 children, have been made homeless, with damage estimated at $15 billion. Injuries and damaged homes are likely to take a long time to rehabilitate, and will require both local and international action.

How MAP is responding

MAP has been overwhelmed by the generosity of our supporters to our Beirut emergency appeal, enabling us to respond swiftly to healthcare needs. Already, MAP is procuring $50,000 of essential medical supplies for PRCS hospitals, including surgical, anaesthetic and X-ray supplies, lifesaving fluids and antibiotics, flamazine (for burns) and antiseptics/disinfectants. This support comes on top of the $100,000 of personal protective equipment and other infection control supplies we have already provided to PRCS hospitals to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. These hospitals are chronically under-resourced and were already struggling as a result of the economic crisis in Lebanon. 

Though the Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut were spared the worst of the physical damage, residents – in particular children – have nevertheless been seriously affected by this terrifying event and its stressful aftermath. Through our partnership with UNICEF, MAP continues to support local organisations to provide mental health and psychosocial services to children, women and families.

Coming as it does on top of multiple crises – including COVID-19 and the country’s economic collapse – MAP knows that the impact of this latest catastrophe will be wide-ranging and long-term. It will affect Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese residents of the city alike. We are discussing with our local partners what additional support MAP can provide, with a likely focus on preserving and building trauma/emergency surgical capacity within the PRCS hospitals.

(Source / 14.08.2020)

BREAKING: Lebanon cabinet resigns

Lebanese Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti, wears a medical mask to protect himself from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, speaks to press after he submitted his resignation to the Prime Minister Hassan Diab at his office in the capital Beirut, on August 3, 2020 [Houssam Shbaro - Anadolu Agency]
Lebanese Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti speaks to press after he submitted his resignation to the Prime Minister Hassan Diab at his office in the capital Beirut, on August 3, 2020

Lebanon cabinet has resigned, AP reported the health minister saying today, amid mounting criticism over the government’s response to the explosion which rocked Beirut last week.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab is set to address the nation at 7:30pm local time (4:30 GMT), when he is expected to formally announce the government’s resignation.

The move comes after the Minister for the Environment Damianos Katter and Minister for Information Manal Abdel Samad submitted their resignations yesterday while Minister for Justice Marie-Claude Najm stepped down this morning.

Later today local media reported Minister of Finance Ghazi Wazni had arrived at the Grand Serail for today’s cabinet session with his letter of resignation.

Health Minister Hamad Hassan spoke with reporters at the end of the Cabinet and said: “The whole government resigned,” adding that Diab was heading to the presidential palace to hand over the resignations.

Eight MPs and Lebanon’s ambassador to Jordan have also resigned in the wake of the explosions. While, Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti resigned from his post on Monday last week, before Tuesday’s explosions.

Lebanon: 3 ministers, 8 MPs resign after Beirut blast

During a cabinet meeting this afternoon, before the government announced its plan to resign, ministers officially referred the investigation surrounding the Beirut explosion to the Judicial Council.

Last week’s explosions, which was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely in Beirut’s port, has killed more than 200, injuring thousands more and devastating the capital city.Massive blast rocks Beirut, Lebanon - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Massive blast rocks Beirut, Lebanon – Cartoon

The blasts reignited nationwide anti-government protests which started in October 2019 denouncing government corruption and calling for an overhaul of the sectarian political system.

In recent days, thousands of Lebanese have attended demonstrations in downtown Beirut with some storming the foreign ministry and burning a picture of Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun. Protesters later stormed the energy and economy ministries.

Meanwhile, protesters in downtown Beirut’s Martyrs Square erected mock gallows calling on politicians to resign.

Diab’s government is expected to continue as a caretaker government until a parliament can agree on a new nomination to head the government – a process which has been known to take months.

(Source / 10.08.2020)

Hamas leader extended condolences to the Lebanese government and people

GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM — Head of the political bureau of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, Ismail Haneyya, has extended condolences to the Lebanese government and people over the deadly explosion at the Port of Beirut.

Haneyya phoned Michel Aoun, the president of Lebanon, Hassan Diab, the prime minister of Lebanon, and Nabih Berri, the speaker of the parliament of Lebanon, to express his full solidarity with the Lebanese people.

The Hamas leader offered his deepest condolences to the families of those who fell victim to the tragic blast and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

A huge explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut on Tuesday, killing at least 100 and injuring 4,000 others.

The explosion sent shockwaves across the city, causing widespread damage as far as the outskirts of the capital which was later declared disaster zone.

(Source / 06.08.2020)

Kinderen met kanker: niet welkom

Karma logo

Je zou het maar te horen krijgen van je arts: “Je hebt kanker”; meestal stort je wereld dan compleet in en nadat je weer trachtte om het leven op te pakken, begint de ellende met chemotherapie, radiotherapie en soms/vaak ook nog een operatie. Ik kan het weten, want ik ben er geweest en ben ondertussen weer 2 jaar na mijn operatie. Maar ik ben niet belangrijk, de kindjes van Libanon zijn van belang.

In Nederland kan je de behandeling krijgen die je nodig hebt, maar dat is niet overal. Laatst was er een documentaire over kinderen met kanker in Libanon via BNN/VARA. Een zeer aangrijpende documentaire van Ton van der Ham.  In deze documentaire kwamen kinderen met kanker aan het woord en ook Dr Issa Layal, waarbij duidelijk de schrijnende gezondheidszorg voor deze patiëntjes in beeld werd gebracht. Na de opname heb ik contact gezocht met de tv-organisatie, die me door kon verwijzen naar Dr Issa Layal, waarna ik contact heb opgenomen.  Middels Whatsapp en Facebook is er contact geweest en is uitleg ontvangen van wat er nodig is.

In de jaren 80 heb ik voor een project van het KWF gewerkt in het Academisch Ziekenhuis Utrecht in het kader van beenmergtransplantaties bij kankerpatiënten en ook hier zaten jonge patiëntjes tussen. Sommigen hebben de transplantaties doorstaan en ik heb ook kindjes het ziekenhuis zien verlaten.  Ik moest toen al een paar keer slikken toen ik deze jonge kinderen zag, maar bij de documentaire van de afgelopen week zat ik met tranen in mijn ogen.

Daarom is er ook contact gezocht met Dr Issa Layal om hulp aan te bieden. Er kwam een melding – was ook reeds te zien in de documentaire – dat er geld nodig is, financiële support – en veel geld, daar de behandelingen van deze kindjes niet echt goedkoop zijn. Ondertussen zijn de behandelingen wel gestart maar geld blijft nodig. En bij dit punt doe ik een beroep op u: help mee om deze kinderen te helpen met de behandeling  van hun kanker. Het moet toch mogelijk zijn om ook voor deze kinderen in Libanon, die de oorlog in Syrië zijn ontvlucht, het leven aangenamer te maken; kinderen als de 11-jarige Azzedine (keel- en longkanker), Bouchra van 14 (bloedziekte) en de 6-jarige Abdelhamid (wachtend op een beenmergtransplantatie).

Er zijn sponsors nodig, mensen die maandelijks, of per kwartaal of eenmalig een bedrag over willen maken. Laat het weten, zodat Dr Issa Layal ingeseind kan worden, dat er geld ingezameld wordt. Reageer op dit artikel.

Tevens roep ik de minister van Gezondheidszorg, het kabinet maar vooral de premier op om meer ruimte vrij te maken voor ernstig zieke kinderen en niet alleen de 30 plaatsen voor zieke vluchtelingen, jong of oud, die er nu zijn. Die 30 plaatsen zijn echter wel inclusief familie, dus het is een grote loterij om een plaatsje te kunnen krijgen in Nederland. Bewindslieden, stel dat het uw kind zou zijn dat zo ernstig ziek zou zijn, dan wilt u er toch ook van alles aandoen om de mogelijkheid te onderzoeken tot genezing en te zorgen dat uw kind zal genezen. Beschouw deze kindjes als uw kind, als onze kinderen; ze hebben geen schuld aan de vreselijke oorlog in Syrië. Ze hebben recht op het leven en wij de menselijke plicht om ze te helpen.   

Link Zembla: https://www.npostart.nl/zembla/03-10-2018/BV_101389094

Lebanese vote in first general election in 9 years

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri casts his vote at a polling station during Lebanese general election in Beirut, Lebanon on May 06, 2018 [Houssam Shbaro / Anadolu Agency]

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri casts his vote at a polling station during Lebanese general election in Beirut, Lebanon on May 06, 2018

Voters queued outside polling stations across Lebanon on Sunday for the chance to take part in its first general election in nine years – an event seen as important for economic stability but unlikely to upset the overall balance of power.

Cars and mopeds were decked out with the flags of the main parties, loudspeakers blared songs in support of candidates near their electoral strongholds and young people wore T-shirts bearing the faces of political leaders.

The election is being held under a new proportional system that has confused some voters and made the contest unpredictable in formerly safe seats, but still preserves the country’s sectarian power sharing system.

Whatever the result, another coalition government including most of the major parties, like that which has governed since 2016, is likely to be formed after the election, analysts have said.

Getting the new government in place quickly would reassure investors of Lebanon’s economic stability. It has one of the world’s highest debt-to-GDP ratios and the International Monetary Fund has warned its fiscal trajectory is unsustainable.

“We hope we will open a new era,” said Mahmoud Daouk, voting in Beirut.

But some other voters were sceptical the election signalled an improvement in Lebanon’s political climate.

“The situation is actually worse now, not better… we lost the chance to hold them accountable nine years ago,” said Fatima Kibbi, 33, a pharmacist.

Voting is scheduled to end at 7 p.m. (1600 GMT). Unofficial results are expected to start coming in overnight. Election law makes it illegal on Sunday to publish forecasts of how the parties will perform before polls close.

However, analysts are closely watching the performance of Sunni Muslim Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s Future Movement party and that of the Iran-backed, Shia Hezbollah group and its allies.

Lebanon has periodically been an arena for the intense regional competition between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

However, in recent years, Riyadh has pulled back from its previous support for Hariri, backing that helped Future in 2009 when it was part of the ‘March 14’ coalition focused on making Hezbollah give up its massive arsenal.

That issue has been quietly shelved as the main parties have focused on getting the economy back on track and grappling with the Syrian refugee crisis.

Donors pledged $11 billion in soft loans for a capital investment programme last month, in return for fiscal and other reforms, and they hope to hold the first follow-up meeting with the new government in the coming weeks.

Debt ratings agencies had stressed the importance of Lebanon going ahead with the election after parliament had extended its term several times.

(Source / 06.05.2018)

Hamas calls on Lebanon to recognize Palestinian refugees’ civil rights

On the 41st anniversary of the Tel al-Zaatar massacre

Tel al-Zaatar massacre

The Hamas Movement called on Lebanese government to take swift steps to charter the civil and social rights of the Palestinian refugees in the country and rebuild the destroyed Nahr al-Bared camp so as not to repeat the humanitarian tragedy of Tel al-Zaatar camp.

In a statement released on the 41st anniversary of the Tel al-Zaatar massacre, Hamas expressed its solidarity with the families of the victims who had been slaughtered by radical Christian Lebanese militias in August 12, 1976 in the camp.

The Movement said that Tel al-Zaatar camp was like a repository for the Palestinian-Lebanese revolution and popular movement, stressing that “the destruction of the camp and the annihilation of its residents during the Lebanese civil war were carried out by suspicious hands to serve the Israeli occupation state.”

Hamas added in its statement that the blood of the martyrs would never go in vain and that the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon would never abandon their aspiration for returning home.

“The stability of [Palestinian] camps brings stability for Lebanon, and all those massacres that took place will not dissuade the Palestinian people from their basic goal of return and liberation,” Hamas said.

The Movement urged the Lebanese state not only to deal with the Palestinian refugee camps from a security perspective but to work on resolving all issues politically and correct its relationship with their residents through providing them with their rights.

(Source / 12.08.2017)

US Draft-Law Urges Europe to Designate ‘Hezbollah’ as Terrorist Organization

US

The US Senate

Washington – The United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will study on Thursday a draft-law that urges the European Union to designate Lebanon’s “Hezbollah” as a terrorist organization.

During five sessions on the Middle East, three of which will be dedicated to Iran, the Senate will also address Tehran’s human rights violations and oppression of religious minorities.

The draft-law directed to the EU was drafted by Democratic Congressman Theodore Deutch and focuses on “crimes and attacks of the terrorist ‘Hezbollah’.” It acknowledges that the EU designated the party’s military wing as a terrorist entity, but not the organization as a whole.

He stressed that “Hezbollah” is part of the illegal drug and arms trade and money-laundering networks throughout Europe. It is using funds generated from this activity to finance terrorist attacks. The party is also sponsored by Iran and Syria that finance it and provide its members with training and weapons.

According to US Defense Department officials, Tehran provides up to 200 million dollars a year to “Hezbollah” in the form of financial support, arms and training. The party has an arsenal of around 150,000 rockets and its fighters are supporting the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad.

The draft-law calls on the EU to impose sanctions on terrorists associated with “Hezbollah” in line with the sanctions imposed by the US. It is also urged to designate the whole party as terrorist, issue arrest warrants against its members and backers, freeze its assets throughout Europe and ban any fundraising campaigns for the party.

The draft-law underlines the importance of achieving greater cooperation between the US and EU in thwarting “Hezbollah’s” criminal and terrorist activity and increasing the exchange of intelligence to that end.

The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will also study a draft-law submitted by Democrats and Republicans that calls on Iran to unconditionally release all American citizens its has imprisoned.

US citizen Robert Levinson traveled to Iran in 2007 and disappeared while visiting the island of Kish. For ten years, Washington has tried to pressure Iran to provide any information about his fate and ensure his safe return to his family. Iranian government officials had pledged to do so.

(Source / 28.06.2017)

Lebanon’s Ain al-Hilweh remains tense as death toll rises to 3 Palestinians

Ain al-Hilweh vluchtelingenkamp

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — After two Palestinians were killed and at least four others were injured in clashes in Lebanon’s Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp between Thursday and Friday, renewed violence Friday evening left another Palestinian dead.

Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA) reported that Palestinian refugee Ibrahim Hussein died of wounds he sustained during an armed “personal dispute” in the Jabal-al-Halib area inside the camp.
Members of the Fatah movement later reportedly caught the perpetrator, identified by NNA as Jihad Abdul Mohti, and handed him over to Lebanese army intelligence authorities.
Saturday morning, NNA reported that the security situation Ain al-Hilweh remained tense, and that all social, educational, and medical institutions associated with UNRWA were closed for business, as streets were empty and citizens apprehensive of sniper fire.
Late last month, armed violence in the refugee camp left an 18- and 12-year-old Palestinian dead, while at least eight others were injured — including a pregnant woman.
The violence was strongly condemned by UNICEF and UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for providing services to some five million Palestinian refugees.
A spike in armed violence between Fatah supporters and Islamist groups in Ain al-Hilweh in December left two dead and at least five injured, with UNRWA suspending its operations in the camp as a result.
The largest and most crowded refugee camp in Lebanon, Ain al-Hilweh is home to some 54,116 registered refugees who fled their villages during the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, according to the UN.
However, the population has significantly increased since 2011 as a result of the Syrian war, as Palestinians have been displaced a second time from refugee camps across Syria, with development nonprofit organization Anera estimating the camp’s population to be closer to 120,000.
According to UNRWA, Ain al-Hilweh suffers from high rates of poverty and poor housing conditions, which have been further stressed as a result of overcrowding in recent years.
Palestinians in Lebanon have the highest percentage of their population living in abject poverty from among the other countries the organization serves, according to UNRWA.
Facing discriminatory employment policies, Palestinians in Lebanon are restricted from working in over 20 professions or claiming the same rights as other non-citizens in Lebanon, while all the refugee camps suffer from overcrowding, poor housing conditions, and a lack of infrastructure.
(Source / 25.03.2017)

New Lebanese army chief warns against ‘Israeli schemes’

Brigadier General Joseph Aoun

Joseph Aoun, Lebanon’s newly-appointed military chief, said Friday that the Lebanese army must remain on guard against “Israeli ambitions and schemes” in the region.

Addressing army officers in Beirut, Aoun cited perceived threats to Southern Lebanon.

“I have full confidence that you will… be prepared to protect our southern border from the Israeli enemy’s sabotage,” he asserted.

Aoun also stressed Lebanon’s readiness to cooperate with the international community with a view to applying UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which was adopted following Lebanon’s 2006 conflict with Israel.

Resolution 1701 called on Israel to withdraw its forces from Southern Lebanon to allow the deployment of UN peacekeepers along the border between the two countries.

Aoun also said that the Lebanese military would continue to work for the release of nine Lebanese soldiers captured by the Daesh terrorist group three years ago.

In mid-2014, Daesh militants captured several Lebanese military personnel following clashes in the Lebanese town of Arsal on the Syrian border.

Aoun was made commander of Lebanon’s armed forces on Wednesday after being promoted to the rank of general.

Replacing General Jean Kahwaji at the post, Aoun is known to be close to Lebanese President Michel Aoun, although the two are not related.

Before assuming the post, Aoun had commanded the Lebanese Army’s 9th Brigade, which is deployed on Lebanon’s border with Syria.

(Source / 10.03.2017)

Graphic novel illustrates life of Syrian refugees in Lebanon

A frame from the graphic novel “Meantime,” by artist Diala Brisly. Posted Feb. 10, 2017

“Meantime” is a graphic novel project initiated in March 2016 by French nongovernmental organization (NGO) Solidarites International (SOL). Five French, Syrian and Lebanese artists spent weeks talking with Syrian refugees in Akkar and Tripoli in northern Lebanon to create five graphic stories, which have been available online since Feb. 21 in English, Arabic and French.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Lebanon hosts more than 1 million Syrian refugees; one in every four people in Lebanon is a refugee. Organizations working on the ground to help vulnerable displaced families face many challenges, such as funding for their programs and projects and telling the individual stories of this population to Western audiences.

SOL was established 35 years ago and has been working for the past three years in Akkar and Tripoli, providing cash assistance and access to water and hygiene products to their Syrian refugee beneficiaries as well as fixing their shelters.

“At the end of 2015, I was in charge of working on a communication project to bring awareness to the people in Europe and Lebanon about the living conditions of the refugees,” Pauline Gregoire, who is in charge of communications and reporting at SOL, told Al-Monitor. “I didn’t want to create a photo or video exhibition that would make people cry.”

At that time, French artist Lisa Mandel was featured in the French newspaper Le Monde with her graphic novel about life in the Calais “jungle,” an informal camp for migrants and refugees wishing to reach England from France that was dismantled gradually from February 2016 onward. “I thought the graphic novel format was nice and light,” Gregoire recalled. “Plus, it is really accessible to everyone and there is this trend of the journalistic graphic novel nowadays, so that is really a modern approach.”

She added, “We had the idea of humanizing refugees — give them an identity. They are human beings who lost everything, who arrived at a new place without anything. They are very vulnerable, but also with very different personalities and stories. It is important to make people understand that they could be any of us. Mandel in her blog on Calais used the comparison with a metro car, saying, “All these people in it could also be in a camp. We have to put names on the numbers to create empathy.”

For the project, which was realized in partnership with UNICEF, the European Union and the US State Department, five artists from France, Lebanon and Syria — Diala Brisly, Kamal Hakim, Lena Merhej, Mandel and Nour Hifaoui Fakhoury — were chosen to give a local, regional and international perspective in regard to the refugee crisis in Lebanon.

For Mandel, whom SOL first contacted given her experience in Calais, coming to Lebanon was a logical step after covering Calais. “I wanted to discover Lebanon and discover differences and similarities between the two situations,” Mandel told Al-Monitor. “Of course, the quantities are not the same. In Calais, there were 10,000 people and everyone was living in a terrible situation — in the mud, in the rain, it was really glaucous. In Lebanon, people are not alone, they are with their family, they are mostly sheltered, even though they are the poorest of the poorest and can only wait for the war to be over. The only thing is that in France, anyone can access proper health care, not like here [in Lebanon] where you have to pay huge amounts of money for everything.”

Mandel described her role in the project as an “information giver.”

On the other hand, for Syrian artist Brisly, who used to independently work with refugees in collaboration with different associations and NGOs, especially children through workshops and murals, it was a way to express something that really struck her during her work in the informal settlements: the relationship between families and men. “I concentrated on how men are also traumatized and need psycho-social support,” Brisly told Al-Monitor.

She added, “Everyone is focusing on women and children and thinking men are like rocks, like they don’t need anything. My culture and in general the culture in the region stipulates that men have to financially support and protect the family. Because of the war, men lost this status and feel totally lost. The family balance has been completely changed.”

With more risks of being stopped at checkpoints and often lacking legal documentation, male refugees rely on their wives or children to work in order to survive because women and children have more freedom of movement. “This trauma often reflects on the man’s relationship with his family, and NGOs — by helping mainly women and children — participate in increasing the gap between the family members,” Brisly said. Her fictional story therefore allows the reader to understand each family member’s perspective in a way that highlights the feelings of the men who find themselves in this situation. “Anyone coming back home not being able to fulfill his role would be angry and frustrated, and it affects everyone around him. Men can also be sad and weak,” she added.

Three Lebanese artists participated in the project, including young Fakhoury, who chose to work on the situation of refugees in Tripoli, their daily struggles and survival skills. She had previously worked for her master graduation project on a comic about the point of view of a Lebanese Christian neighborhood on refugees. “I could do the exact opposite and discover how refugees are actually managing to live,” Fakhoury told Al-Monitor. “It was also a chance to do some research and understand people I didn’t really know.”

As a Lebanese, she was glad to discover strong people who are fighting to survive, still having hope and taking care of their family. “I gained a lot in this project — both professionally and personally,” she said. “I want their stories to be heard.”

This graphic novel project contributes to providing another perspective on what millions of people go through while living in exile in countries around world, as well as humanizing the individual displaced person.

(Source / 01.03.2017)