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Police beat port blast protesters, Hariri to visit Baabda, public hospital threatens closure: All you need to know today

Here’s what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Wednesday, July 14

Police beat port blast protesters, Hariri to visit Baabda, public hospital threatens closure: All you need to know today

Police fired tear gas Tuesday to disperse demonstrators during a protest outside caretaker Interior Minister Mohamed Fahmi’s home in Beirut. (Credit: Mohamed Azakir/Reuters)

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Riot police beat and tear gassed protesters attempting to storm Mohamed Fehmi’s Beirut residence. The protesters, including families of the victims of the Aug. 4 port explosion carrying mock caskets, were enraged by the caretaker interior minister’s decision to protect General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim from prosecution in the blast case — a striking reversal of Fehmi’s public vow earlier this month to allow the case to proceed. Ibrahim is among a slate of top officials targeted in the investigation into the devastating explosion. However, nearly a year after the explosion, it is unclear whether anyone will be held accountable: the last investigative judge to attempt to prosecute any top official in the case was himself sacked.

Rotting grain from the silos destroyed at ground zero of the port explosion will finally be removed. The treatment project, set to be executed by a French company and funded by the French government, was inaugurated by Paris’ minister delegate for trade while on a visit to Beirut. The French official said his country was also carrying out studies to “return life” to the badly damaged port as soon as possible, adding that “France respects its commitments, unlike Lebanese authorities, which have not committed to reforms.” He reiterated that sanctions would be issued against those who obstruct government formation.

Saad Hariri is set to meet with Michel Aoun today, the pair’s 19th meeting since the former was designated to form a government nearly nine months ago. The premier-designate is expected to present the president with a new cabinet lineup. While there is no indication that the underlying issues preventing agreement between the two men have been resolved, international pushes to form a government have picked up steam of late. Prior to his visit to Baabda, Hariri was expected to jet to Cairo to meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi this morning. Since Hariri and Aoun’s last meeting in March, the premier-designate’s surrogates have increasingly floated the option of his resignation if no deal can be reached.

Sibline Governmental Hospital announced it will shut its doors tomorrow if the government fails to provide adequate funding. A senior doctor at the public hospital told L’Orient Today that it has requested LL3 billion to keep the facility running, as well as raises for its staff “who now earn as little as $40” per month. A second public hospital, Sahar Ghabi Governmental Hospital in the Aley district town of Remhala, meanwhile said it would halt all but dialysis and emergency services from tomorrow in the face of similar funding shortfalls. The threatened shutdowns are the latest shoe to drop as Lebanon’s health sector crumbles under the weight of the country’s financial crisis, electricity shortages and a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 500 people tested positive for the virus yesterday, the highest number in nearly two months. Meanwhile, less than a quarter of the population has been fully or partially immunized.

More children are being forced into work as Lebanon falls further into economic collapse, Save the Children warned. The UK-based charity reported a “dramatic increase” in the number of kids working on the street to sell gasoline or tissues, or collect scrap metal or plastic, with 306 cases identified in the first half of 2021 alone, compared with 346 during all of 2020. Children as young as 5 are facing such toil, as well as the dangers involved, the organization said. The spike in child labor comes as the country grapples with its worst economic crisis in decades, wiping out families’ savings and sharply reducing incomes, while COVID-19 reduces access to education, especially among the poor.


Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Riot police beat and tear gassed protesters attempting to storm Mohamed Fehmi’s Beirut residence. The protesters, including families of the victims of the Aug. 4 port explosion carrying mock caskets, were enraged by the caretaker interior minister’s decision to protect General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim from prosecution in the...