Gloomy mood in war-torn Libya on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha

People visit a livestock market in Misrata, Libya. (Reuters)
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Updated 01 August 2020

Gloomy mood in war-torn Libya on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha

  • An average-sized sheep costs 1,200 to 1,400 dinars — too much for many Libyans who, even if they have the means, cannot withdraw enough cash from their bank accounts

TAJOURA, Libya: Worn down by conflict, poverty and the pandemic, many Libyans are gloomy this year on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha.
A usually bustling annual sheep market on the outskirts of the capital Tripoli lies largely deserted, lambs bleating in their wire-mesh pens with few customers in sight.
A handful of potential buyers eye the sacrificial animals, their makeshift enclosures partially shaded against the blazing summer sun, in the suburb of Tajoura.
Breeder Suleiman Ertel got up long before dawn to bring his livestock from his hometown of Zliten, about 140 km away, to the biggest animal market in western Libya.
For Muslims, the festival honors Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God, who then intervened and provided a sacrificial lamb instead.
The faithful commemorate this by ritually sacrificing an animal — a sheep, goat, cow or even a camel — and dividing it into three parts; for the poor, for relatives and for the home.
“Usually, in the days before the festival, people rush to buy their sheep,” Ertel said, his eyes scanning the dusty three-square-kilometer expanse.
But this year high livestock prices, a pandemic-driven fear of crowded markets, a financial crisis and heightened insecurity in Libya itself have all kept customers away.
For livestock farmers like him, Ertel said, “everything is more expensive. Fodder has doubled in price, but also transport costs between towns, because of insecurity on some routes.
“It’s discouraging,” he said. The country is also plagued by water shortages and power blackouts that hobble air-conditioners and also make it impossible to store meat in freezers.
The deplorable situation is compounded by the COVID-19 crisis, which has depressed global oil prices. The virus itself has flared again in Libya despite curfews, the closure of schools and mosques, and a travel ban.
In recent weeks, new infections have surged above 100 a day for the first time since the virus was detected in the North African country in late March.
There have been 3,017 confirmed cases and 67 deaths in Libya from the respiratory disease, deemed by many as underestimates in a divided country with a shattered public health system.

SPEEDREAD

• For livestock farmers, everything is more expensive. Fodder has doubled in price and also transport costs between towns, because of insecurity on some routes.

• The country is plagued by water shortages and power blackouts that hobble air-conditioners and also make it impossible to store meat in freezers.

At Tajoura’s market, Ahmed Al-Fallah spent his third day searching for a sheep he could afford, in a desperate bid to try to maintain the crucial religious and family tradition.
“I ask about prices without being able to buy anything,” he told AFP, keeping an eye on one of his three sons posing for a photo next to a sheep.
“I don’t have enough money. I think I’m going to have to borrow some.”
An average-sized sheep costs 1,200 to 1,400 dinars — too much for many Libyans who, even if they have the means, cannot withdraw enough cash from their bank accounts.
“Most banks have capped withdrawals at 1,000 dinars in the days leading up to the festival,” said Mohammed Kecher, another frustrated customer at the market.
“So we hesitate,” he said. “Should we spend it all on the sacrificial sheep or keep the money for the family’s expenses for a month?”


Debate rages over Turkey’s surging pandemic numbers

Pedestrians, wearing face masks, walk in a street of Ankara on November 20, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 24 November 2020

Debate rages over Turkey’s surging pandemic numbers

  • 20% of Israeli travelers to Turkey in October tested positive for coronavirus on their return
  • No PCR test is required now in Turkish airports for the passengers entering the country. It is a very big mistake

ANKARA: Unofficial sources have warned that numbers of COVID-19 cases in Turkey are skyrocketing.

The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) estimated that daily COVID-19 cases have risen to more than 47,500, of which about 12,500 are in Istanbul. This would represent a 300 percent increase in November compared to the month before.

According to official data, however, Turkey recorded 5,103 new COVID-19 patients on Nov. 20 — the second highest new daily figure since March — and its highest daily death toll with 141 fatalities.

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu announced that 186 people died from “infectious diseases” in the city on Nov. 22 — more than the official countrywide death toll. (The Turkish health ministry is accused of classifying some COVID-related deaths as "infection-related deaths")

The TTB, whose data drew on figures from 1,270 medics in 76 provinces, claimed that someone in Turkey dies from COVID-19 every 10 minutes. It declared that “they have lost control of the pandemic.”

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca previously admitted that they do not include everyone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the number of daily cases — they only count those who show symptoms. Following this admission Turkey was put on the UK’s quarantine-on-arrival list in early October.

BACKGROUND

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca previously admitted that they do not include everyone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the number of daily cases — they only count those who show symptoms.

Reports drawing on Israeli health ministry data say that 20 percent of Israeli travelers to Turkey in October tested positive for coronavirus on their return home, which experts consider a worryingly high figure.

Everyone arriving in Israel is obliged to self-isolate for 14 days. There is no such an obligation in Turkey.

“The countries which prove successful in managing the pandemic are those that apply strict quarantine rules and rigorously regulate arrivals in the country. But this is not the case in Turkey nowadays,” said Guner Sonmez, a radiologist from Uskudar University in Istanbul.

“Only one case can again trigger a whole chain of contagion and begin a new wave of pandemic. However, no PCR test is required now in Turkish airports for the passengers who enter the country. It is a very big mistake for managing the dynamics of the pandemic.”

Turkey recently re-introduced a partial evening curfew and restrictions on the weekends, although scientists have been urging a full 14-day lockdown.