The Higher Defense Council agreed on a three-month extension to the country’s COVID-19-related “general mobilization,” previously set to expire on Jan. 1, 2021. The mobilization, which allows authorities to impose lockdowns, curfews and other measures intended to slow the spread of the virus, was put in place on March 15 and was originally supposed to last for only two weeks, but it has since been extended multiple times. Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan said yesterday that the latest two-week lockdown had failed to meet expectations.
Michel Aoun signed into law a measure passed by Parliament last week that would guarantee long-term support to families of those killed in the port blast. The law, which had been promised soon after the blast but executed only after sustained pressure by the victims’ families, puts those families on equal footing with those of soldiers killed in the line of duty, providing them with compensation payments and an ongoing monthly pension. Victims’ families had run into issues with initial aid payments issued by the state when banks refused to cash the checks or open accounts in which to deposit them.
Meanwhile, advocates for the disabled contend that they are being marginalized in the port blast response. The law signed by Aoun stipulates that those who have been completely or partially disabled by the blast will be covered for life by the National Social Security Fund. However, it does not provide them with compensation or pension payments. The Lebanese Union for People with Physical Disabilities, joined by some of those who were disabled as a result of the explosion, held a protest to call attention to their plight yesterday, which was also the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
The World Bank, European Union and United Nations will announce details of a new fund today to provide post-explosion aid to Lebanon. While up until now, aid has been mainly focused on immediate humanitarian needs, the “Lebanon Reform, Recovery and Reconstruction Framework” will shift focus toward longer-term rebuilding of the areas damaged by the blast. Following a closed-door donor conference convened by France and the UN Wednesday, French authorities announced yesterday that donors had exceeded the 253 million euros pledged at an initial fundraising conference in August, with about 280 million euros disbursed. However, they did not provide a breakdown of the amount contributed by each donor or whether they had given money or in-kind contributions.
St. Joseph University’s Secular Club claimed a “historic victory” in student elections, saying its candidates had won 85 seats, including the presidency of 12 out of 29 colleges. The official election results do not list the winning candidates’ political affiliations, leaving parties to declare their own numbers. The Lebanese Forces said its candidates had won 24 seats and the allied Kataeb Party said its candidates had taken 11 seats, while an alliance of the Free Patriotic Movement, the Amal Movement and Hezbollah claimed 32 seats. The Secular Club’s apparent win comes on the heels of strong showings for other non-party candidates in student elections at the American University of Beirut, the Lebanese American University and Rafik Hariri University.
Activists have called for a protest in Martyrs’ Square on Saturday against the banking system. Sarkhit Moudi3in (The Depositors’ Call), an organization that aims to “discuss and solve the problems with the banking sector,” is inviting all those whose money is trapped inside Lebanese banks to join the protest and “liberate” their deposits. Over the last year, banks have imposed oppressive restrictions on withdrawals and banking transfers, preventing many from accessing their money.
The Higher Defense Council agreed on a three-month extension to the country’s COVID-19-related “general mobilization,” previously set to expire on Jan. 1, 2021. The mobilization, which allows authorities to impose lockdowns, curfews and other measures intended to slow the spread of the virus, was put in place on March 15 and was originally supposed to last for only two weeks, but it has...