Over half of Beirut health facilities ‘non-functional’: WHO

The Moroccan field hospital in Karantina, near the Port of Beirut, August 12, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 12 August 2020

Over half of Beirut health facilities ‘non-functional’: WHO

  • WHO’s Richard Brennan: Following an assessment of 55 clinics and health centers in the Lebanese capital, ‘we know now that just over 50 percent are non-functional’
  • Brennan urged authorities to ‘restore functionality of many of those health facilities as quickly as possible’ to help the country deal with both casualties of the blast and a spike in COVID-19 cases

CAIRO: More than half of Beirut’s health care facilities evaluated by the World Health Organization are “non-functional” following last week’s deadly portside explosion, the organization said Wednesday.
Following an assessment of 55 clinics and health centers in the Lebanese capital, “we know now that just over 50 percent are non-functional,” said WHO’s regional emergency director Richard Brennan at a virtual press conference in Cairo.
Three major hospitals were non-functional and another three operating at well below normal capacity, he said.
“That means we have lost around 500 beds,” he added.
He urged Lebanese authorities and their partners to “restore functionality of many of those health facilities as quickly as possible” to help the country deal with both casualties of the blast and a spike in novel coronavirus cases.
Lebanon has so far tallied 7,121 cases including 87 deaths, out of a population of six million, according to the Lebanese health ministry’s tally on Tuesday.

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The Eastern Mediterranean country was rocked on August 4 by its worst-ever peacetime disaster when more than 2,700 tons of amoninum nitrate exploded at Beirut port, killing 171 people and disfiguring the country’s capital.
Iman Shankiti, WHO Representative for Lebanon, said intensive care units and regular beds were occupied by trauma cases following the explosion.
This, coupled with the increase in coronavirus infections, resulted in “deficiency within the ICU and the regular beds in hospitals... which will have an impact on the hospitalization capacity in Lebanon,” she added.


Iraqis gather in Baghdad to mark anti-government protests anniversary

Updated 19 min 47 sec ago

Iraqis gather in Baghdad to mark anti-government protests anniversary

  • Protesters waved the Iraqi flag and chanted “free revolutionaries"

BAGHDAD: A few hundred Iraqis gathered in Baghdad’s central Tahrir square on Thursday to mark the anniversary of anti-government unrest that erupted last year and to put pressure on the authorities to meet their demands.
Protesters waved the Iraqi flag and chanted “free revolutionaries, we will continue the path.”
Some sang patriotic songs while clapping.
“We are here to start the revolution again...We haven’t forgotten about the blood of the martyrs,” said Abbas Younis, 25, wearing an Iraqi flag as a cape and a surgical mask.
More than 560 people, mostly unarmed demonstrators but also some members of the security forces, have been killed since a spate of popular unrest began on Oct. 1, 2019, with both security forces and unidentified gunmen shooting people dead.
London-based Amnesty International called on the Iraqi government on Thursday to do more to “deliver justice to the hundreds killed in the course of exercising their right to peaceful assembly.
“Find the missing, deliver justice for lives lost,” it said.
Protesters, most of them young, are demanding an overhaul of a political system they see as profoundly corrupt and keeping most Iraqis in poverty.
The protests have shaken the country out of two years of relative calm following the defeat of Islamic State insurgents.
Infighting between political parties clinging to power has fueled the crisis and threatens to kindle more unrest.
Last year’s protests caused the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, who was replaced in May by Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, who pledged to investigate the deaths and incarceration of hundreds of protesters.
Demonstrators on Thursday gave the government until Oct. 25 to meet their demands by Oct. 25 or face a general strike.
“Our demands are simple and legitimate...We demand the killers of the protesters be prosecuted,” said Mustafa Makki.
Dressed in combat trousers and wearing a shirt with an image of a slain protester and a necklace made out of an empty tear gas canister, the 24-year-old said he had four bullet wounds, and one of them had cost him his vision in his left eye.
Later on Thursday, dozens took to the streets in the southern cities of Diwaniyah and Najaf, waving the Iraqi flag and carrying photographs of demonstrators killed last year.
Kadhimi in July called an early general election for June 6, 2021, roughly a year ahead of when it would normally be held, a central demand of the protesters. But Iraqi’s parliament must still ratify the election date and amend the election law.
Kadhimi and President Barham Salih pledged to meet the demands of the protesters. “We affirm our loyalty to our people and to the roadmap imposed by the blood and scarifies of its youth,” Kadhimi said in a statement.