Lebanese youth, families wish to emigrate, says Christian NGO

A protester shouts slogans during a rally to protest government policies, in Beirut. (AP)
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Updated 11 February 2020

Lebanese youth, families wish to emigrate, says Christian NGO

  • The most dangerous thing about this is that some of these people are wealthy and they decided to withdraw their money from Lebanon and invest it abroad

BEIRUT: Lebanese youth and families want to emigrate from the country as they have lost hope in their homeland, according to Labora, an NGO working since 2008 on problems facing the Christian community.
“This is a new phenomenon where 7 out of 10 people we are contacting, including youth and families, say they want to emigrate from Lebanon because they have lost hope in their homeland,” Tony Khadra, the head of Labora, told Arab News.
This phenomenon was also the focus of a sermon delivered by the Curial Bishop of the Maronite Patriarchate Archbishop Paul Abdel Sater on Sunday, which resonated widely with Lebanese people.
Sater warned Lebanese officials, saying: “Thousands of our youths are lining up in front of embassies, in an attempt to leave the country as soon as possible.”
Sater said that what is happening “must be an ultimatum to stop the heads of political parties, deputies and ministers, from tossing around charges and responsibilities, as well as attempting to achieve frail political and additional gains, and to start seriously and cleanly cooperating together, in order to save our country from an economic collapse and a social ruin.”
Lebanon is facing a serious political and economic crisis. President Michel Aoun summarized the gravity of the crisis before the Maronite League in January, saying that: “Lebanon has neither production nor money after relying on a rent-based economy for years.”
The country’s politicians are concerned about the state’s incapacity to pay its debts, which are due in the coming weeks, and that the government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab will not be able to launch the required reforms to acquire the international economic support that Lebanon needs, especially since the US administration considers it to be “Hezbollah’s government.”

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There is information that is being circulated among youth that the Canadian Embassy is reopening the door of immigration, especially for Christians.

Khadra said: “36,000 students graduate yearly from universities in Lebanon and fail to find jobs. The unemployment crisis is not confined to one religion or another, but rather affects young people from all religions.”
There is information that is being circulated among youth that the Canadian Embassy is reopening the door of immigration, especially for Christians. However, Ambassador of Canada to Lebanon Emmanuelle Lamoureux denied what is being said about Canada adopting a special program for the emigration of Christians from Lebanon, stressing that: “Canada has not changed its policy regarding immigration.”
The head of the Lebanese Land Movement, Talal Douaihy, claimed last November that: “The employees of the Canadian Embassy are contacting a certain group of those who have submitted immigration applications more than a year ago, and this group is the Christians.”
Information International counted during the first three months of 2019 around 4,700 Lebanese citizens, the majority of whom are under the age of 40, leaving the country without declaring their intention to return.
Activist lawyer Antoine Nasrallah told Arab News about the “frightening numbers of emigration” from Lebanon. He said: “I know doctors and human rights activists who have made the decision to emigrate from Lebanon to Europe and Canada while those who have relatives in Australia decided to join them.
“The most dangerous thing about this is that some of these people are wealthy and they decided to withdraw their money from Lebanon and invest it abroad. It should be noted that one of the vital arteries that kept the heart of Lebanon beating is the money of workers abroad that was transferred to their families back home.”
Nasrallah said: “There is a real concern among people of all religions that the country no longer preserves their dignity, does not provide them with a decent living, and in return, the government is not taking any steps to restore hope to the people.”
We fear that we will be turning into an old population, yet the most dangerous thing is that those who are emigrating from Lebanon are the ones who believe in the concept of a republic, while those who remain don’t,” he added.


Coronavirus: 16 killed in Iran, 95 infected

Workers disinfect Qom’s Masumeh shrine, which is visited by a large number of people, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (AFP)
Updated 26 February 2020

Coronavirus: 16 killed in Iran, 95 infected

  • Six Saudi women recovering in Bahrain as Kingdom warns against travel to Italy and Japan

DUBAI: Two more people infected with the new coronavirus have died, taking the toll in Iran to 16, a Health Ministry official told state TV on Tuesday.

Iran has the highest number of deaths from coronavirus outside China, where the virus emerged late last year.
“Among those who had been suspected of the virus, 35 have been confirmed and two died of the coronavirus infection,” said Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour. He said 95 people had been infected across Iran.
The Health Ministry urged Iranians to stay at home.
Iran said on Monday 900 cases were suspected, dismissing claims by a lawmaker from Qom who said 50 people had died in the city, the epicenter of the new coronavirus outbreak.
Iran, which confirmed its first two deaths last week in Qom, has yet to say how many people it has quarantined, but the semi-official Mehr news agency said 320 people had been hospitalized.
Iraj Harirchi, Iran’s deputy health minister, has tested positive for the coronavirus and is now under quarantine.
Six Arab countries have reported their first cases of coronavirus, with those infected all having links to Iran. Kuwait said the number of infected people there had risen to eight.
Bahrain’s Health Ministry said 15 more people, including six Saudi women, had tested positive for the virus after returning from Iran via Dubai and Sharjah. The new cases were carried by Bahraini and Saudi nationals who arrived at Bahrain International Airport from Iran via Dubai or Sharjah.
The Saudi Ministry of Health said that it was coordinating with Bahraini health officials for the treatment of the Saudi women who had visited Iran. They will remain in Bahrain until they are fully recovered. The Kingdom has advised citizens and residents to avoid traveling to Italy and Japan.
Iranian authorities have ordered the nationwide cancellation of concerts and soccer matches and the closure of schools and universities in many provinces.
The head of Qom’s Medical Science University, Mohammad Reza Ghadir, expressed concern over “the spread of those people infected by the virus across the city,” adding the Health Ministry had banned releasing figures linked to the coronavirus.
Many Iranians took to social media to accuse authorities of concealing the facts.
Rouhani called for calm, saying the outbreak was no worse than other epidemics that Iran has weathered.
The sight of Iranians wearing masks and gloves is now common in much of the country.
Sales of masks, disinfectant gels and disposable gloves have soared in Tehran and other cities, with officials vowing to prevent hoarding and shortages by boosting production.
Iran has shut schools, universities and cultural centers until the end of the week in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The UAE has banned all flights to and from Iran. The UAE, home to long-haul carriers Emirates and Etihad, remains a key international transit route for Iran’s 80 million people.
Emirates, the government-owned carrier based in Dubai, flies daily to Tehran. Its low-cost sister airline, FlyDubai, flies to multiple Iranian cities, as does the Sharjah-based low-cost carrier Air Arabia.
The announcement came after Bahrain said it would suspend all flights from Dubai and Sharjah.
Kuwait raised the number of its infected cases to eight, after earlier raising the number to five. It said the three latest cases involved Kuwaiti citizens just back from Iran, without giving more details. The five previously reported cases were passengers returning on a flight from the Iranian city of Mashhad, where Iran’s government has not yet announced a single case of the virus.
Kuwait had halted transport links with Iran over the weekend and said it was evacuating its citizens from Iran.
An Iraqi family of four who returned from a visit to Iran tested positive for the coronavirus, the first Iraqis known to have caught the disease.
The four cases in Kirkuk province brought Iraq’s total to five after it reported its first case on Monday, an Iranian theology student in Najaf. Iraq is deeply concerned about its exposure to the Iranian outbreak, as it has deep cultural and religious ties with its neighbor and typically receives millions of Iranians each year.
The Iraqi government, which has already banned all travel from China and Iran, added Italy, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore and Japan to its travel ban list on Tuesday. Returning Iraqi citizens are exempt, as are diplomats.
Populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr suspended a call for his followers to hold a “million-man” protest, saying he had decide to forbid the events “for your health and life, for they are more important to me than anything else.”
“I had called for million-man protests and sit-ins against sectarian power-sharing and today I forbid you from them for your health and life, for they are more important to me than anything else,” he said in a statement. It was not immediately clear how the government’s call on citizens to avoid public gatherings would affect the strength of anti-government protests, and the response of security forces.
A Turkish Airlines plane flying from Iran was diverted to Ankara on Tuesday at the Turkish Health Ministry’s request and an aviation news website said one passenger was suspected of being infected by coronavirus.
Turkey’s Demiroren news agency broadcast video showing ambulances lined up beside the plane, with several personnel wearing white protective suits on the tarmac.
The plane was flying from Tehran and had been scheduled to land in Istanbul. Turkey shut its borders to Iran on Sunday and cut flights due to the spread of the virus in that country.
Oman’s Khasab port has suspended the import and export of goods to and from Iran from Feb. 26.