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Residents displaced from the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp remained reluctant to return home after yet another ceasefire was brokered Thursday, and following a week of renewed deadly fighting between Fatah and Islamist factions. On Friday, residents sheltered in the al-Mousalli Mosque near the entrance of the camp told L’Orient Today they were waiting to make sure the ceasefire holds before returning home. More than 100 people, including combatants and civilians, were injured during the clashes, many of whom remain hospitalized. Other residents told L’Orient Today they could not return to their homes because of the damage caused by the fighting. Before the clashes reignited, UNRWA appealed for over $15 million in aid for Ain al-Hilweh. On Sept. 7, renewed clashes pitting Fatah and Islamist factions erupted, reportedly over the Islamists’ refusal to turn in the alleged killers of a Fatah-affiliated security official to Lebanese authorities.
French envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian on Friday concluded a three-day series of meetings with Lebanese officials, aimed at ending the presidential vacuum, with "positive" results, according to caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati. Le Drian backed Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri's call for a dialogue joining different political parties. Hezbollah, the Progressive Socialist Party and Sunni MPs backed the dialogue proposal, while the Lebanese Forces and Kataeb opposed the initiative. On Sunday, Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil also opposed Berri’s dialogue initiative, while advocating for “bilateral, trilateral and plural discussions.” Le Drian also met with Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Bukhari, who along with the US, Qatar and Egypt, form the “Group of Five” working to end the presidential vacuum. The five nations are set to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly to discuss Lebanon’s situation.
Facing a surge in Syrian asylum seekers arriving irregularly by sea, Cypriot Interior Minister, Constantinos Ioannou, urged the European Union to aid Lebanon, describing it as a “barrier” without which “all of Europe [would] have a problem.” Ioannou’s letter to European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas called for the re-evaluation of Syria’s status, to allow deportation and repatriation from EU countries. Between April and May, Lebanese authorities deported hundreds of displaced Syrians, drawing criticism from rights groups claiming Syria is unsafe for return. On Wednesday, Lebanese caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister Abdallah Bou Habib discussed repatriation with his Syrian counterpart, who reportedly affirmed that his country is “ready to welcome refugees and facilitate their return.” Over the past weeks, the Lebanese army announced it intercepted thousands of people attempting to informally cross the border from Syria, claiming they planned to migrate to Europe from Lebanese shores.
A wildfire near a residential area in Akkar forced over a dozen people to evacuate their homes on Friday while at least eight people were hospitalized for smoke inhalation and burns. By late Friday afternoon, Civil Defense teams, aided by local residents and a Lebanese Army helicopter, successfully brought the fire under control. The flames destroyed 25 hectares including olive, pine and oak trees, and entire agricultural fields. Experts have warned of increased wildfire risk this summer amid rising global temperatures. Recent weeks have seen near-daily wildfires in Lebanon, particularly in the densely forested Akkar governorate, where rough terrain means firefighting vehicles cannot always access fire sites.
An International Monetary Fund delegation concluding its visit to Lebanon Friday criticized delays in implementing reforms. IMF delegation head Ramirez Rigo noted “an impaired banking sector, inadequate public services, crumbling infrastructure, rising poverty and unemployment rates, and a widening income gap.” While praising recent policy shifts at Banque du Liban, Rigo called for comprehensive reforms to the central bank and the implementation of a coherent fiscal strategy at the government level.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from over the weekend: “Kibbeh, through the generations”
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz
Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Residents displaced from the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp remained reluctant to return home after yet another ceasefire was brokered Thursday, and following a week of renewed deadly fighting between Fatah and Islamist factions. On Friday, residents sheltered in the al-Mousalli Mosque near the entrance of the camp told...