Lebanon schools to reopen in cooperation with the Red Cross

Lebanon schools to reopen in cooperation with the Red Cross
A worker cleans classroom desks in a school closed due to the coronavirus, Sidon, Lebanon, February 29, 2020. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 16 April 2021

Lebanon schools to reopen in cooperation with the Red Cross

Lebanon schools to reopen in cooperation with the Red Cross
  • Minister of Education Tarek Majzoub said the move to return to blended learning is related to the rate of vaccination among teachers
  • Schools in Lebanon have relied on online learning since the beginning of the year – a surge in COVID-19 cases in schools following the holidays brought about their closing

BEIRUT: The Lebanese Education Ministry has decided to reopen all schools for blended learning as of April 21, after closing for more than three months.

Minister of Education Tarek Majzoub said the move to return to blended learning is related to the rate of vaccination among teachers.

But the head of the Lebanese Doctors’ Syndicate Sharaf Abu Sharaf warned that since the vaccination process started in February, it has covered only “5 percent of the Lebanese, with 10,000 persons working in the health sector who have still not received the vaccine.”

Majzoub said: “The education in Lebanon is in danger, especially the good education that used to be equally provided for poor, middle, and rich classes

“The harsh economic conditions have affected everyone. Therefore, we must cooperate to save the academic year. We have nothing left in Lebanon but education, and our goal as a ministry is to save this academic year.”

The ministry has announced the schedule for the official exams, which will be taken in person. The Grade 12 Baccalaureate exams will take place on July 26, and the required curriculum will be reduced. The exams, according to the minister, will not be “formal,” but “the difficulty level will be studied.”

The government canceled the official exams last year, instead granting certificates to students in line with their grades in school and from online learning.

The Grade 9 Brevet exams will be replaced by school tests, which will be prepared and controlled by the ministry. The exams will take place on July 12.

Schools in Lebanon have relied on online learning since the beginning of the year. A surge in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in schools following the holidays brought about their closing. Some private schools and universities violated closures by imposing attendance, while abiding by COVID-19 precautionary measures.

Abu Sharaf, who is also a pediatrician, said that “closing educational institutions has increased psychological problems among students, such as stress, introversion, social media addiction, obesity, and domestic violence. Western reports have even shown an increase in the suicide rate, in addition to a significant fall in the intellectual development of students, especially those under the age of 10.”

The decision to return students to schools excludes those with health issues, who can continue learning remotely. However, the return does not exclude students with special needs, those who have learning disabilities, or public schools’ students enrolled in the afternoon shift, such as Syrian refugees.

The return to schools has been taken during a crippling financial and economic crisis in Lebanon that has further deteriorated during the education shutdown.

A draft law proposed in July 2020 to allocate 500 million Lebanese pounds ($327 million) to support the education sector is still awaiting approval by parliament.

Majzoub said: “The country is going through a very delicate and exceptional situation, both on the health and economic levels. It is very easy for us to stop the whole education process and grant students pass certificates instead of going through the whole examination process, but this is not the ministry’s mission.”

He added: “A total of 17,000 vaccines have been secured for the teaching staff, to cover high school teachers in the first phase. The World Bank has supported us to become a priority in vaccinations, as well as UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the Lebanese Red Cross. 

“However, the committee following up on the COVID-19 preventive measures said that not receiving the vaccine does not mean we cannot resume classes, in line with the preventive and precautionary measures.”

The ministry has introduced a new operation room to follow-up on news regarding blended education. It will work in cooperation with the Red Cross around the clock.

Majzoub’s decision has angered some parents and teachers, who accused him on social media of being “oblivious to the people’s situation and the impacts of his decision.”

Teachers expressed fears over “being unprotected” and expressed concern over “receiving AstraZeneca, the vaccine that has been allocated for them, due to reports about the possibility of the vaccine causing blood clots.”

Complaints against the minister’s decision were also made by some parents who said they are no longer capable of providing transport fees for their children to and from school, and others who said they cannot even give their children money to buy lunch at school.

Due to the worsening economic collapse, more than 50 percent of the Lebanese and 97 percent of Palestinian and Syrian refugees now live under the poverty line.

Jennifer Moorehead, director of Save the Children Lebanon, warned on April 1 that “the education for thousands of children in Lebanon is hanging by a thread.”

She added: “Many of them might never come back to school, either because they have missed so much learning already or because their families cannot afford to send them to school.”

According to the NGO: “Children not enrolled in schools are at a higher risk of falling victim to child labor, child marriage, and other forms of abuse and exploitation.”


Iraq seeks Italian refund for military purchases

Iraq seeks Italian refund for military purchases
Updated 30 min 18 sec ago

Iraq seeks Italian refund for military purchases

Iraq seeks Italian refund for military purchases
  • Iraqi FM said the money was paid to Italian aerospace and defense company Leonardo and the Fincantieri shipyard
  • The two countries are underway “to resolve the situation for the best”

ROME: Iraq has asked Italy to return the 90 million euros Saddam Hussein’s regime paid to Italian companies to purchase military equipment that was never delivered because of the 1991 embargo on the sale of arms to Iraq.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein met his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio in Rome on Wednesday and explained the money was paid to Italian aerospace and defense company Leonardo and the Fincantieri shipyard.

“There are 60 million euros frozen in Italian banks, plus interest, and 30 million more in current accounts of the embassy and other employees. It is our right to recover that amount, and we have no intention of giving up on this,” Hussein told press after the meeting.

He added that the release of those sums will “facilitate, improve and increase the relaunch of bilateral relations” between Iraq and Italy.

“Foreign Minister Di Maio has promised to engage in the issue,” he explained, but said it is yet to be decided whether Italy will deliver the purchased equipment or unlock the frozen accounts.

Sources in the Italian Foreign ministry confirmed to Arab News that negotiations between the two countries are underway “to resolve the situation for the best.”

During his meeting with Di Maio at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hussein also thanked Italy for its help as a member of the international coalition against Daesh.

“I take this opportunity to thank the Italian people, government and institutions for this,” he said.

Italy has provided weapons and training to Kurdish anti-Daesh militias in Erbil for over 10 years. A particularly intense training job has been carried out in Kurdistan by the Carabinieri, the Italian Military Police.

“Thanks to the fundamental Italian contribution to our security forces, Iraq continues to fight those Daesh cells which are still active in the country,” Hussein told Italian daily newspaper Repubblica.


Jordan’s court appoints Jaafar Hassan as director of king’s office, accepts 3 resignations

Jordan’s court appoints Jaafar Hassan as director of king’s office, accepts 3 resignations
Updated 26 min 57 sec ago

Jordan’s court appoints Jaafar Hassan as director of king’s office, accepts 3 resignations

Jordan’s court appoints Jaafar Hassan as director of king’s office, accepts 3 resignations

DUBAI: The Jordanian Royal Court has appointed Jaafar Hassan as the director of King Abdullah II’s office, state news agency Petra reported on Thursday.
The royal decree also said the court accepted the resignations of political advisor Haifa Khreisha, King’s advisor Qassem Nasser and economic advisor Zaina Touqan.


Jerusalem clashes wound 22 Palestinians as land rights tensions mount

Jerusalem clashes wound 22 Palestinians as land rights tensions mount
Updated 06 May 2021

Jerusalem clashes wound 22 Palestinians as land rights tensions mount

Jerusalem clashes wound 22 Palestinians as land rights tensions mount
  • Police confirmed 11 arrests in the latest unrest to rock the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood near Jerusalem’s walled Old City

JERUSALEM: Twenty-two Palestinians were wounded in overnight clashes with Israeli police in annexed east Jerusalem, the Red Crescent said Thursday, as tensions flare over a controversial land rights case.
Police confirmed 11 arrests in the latest unrest to rock the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood near Jerusalem’s walled Old City, where land disputes between Palestinians and Jewish settlers have fueled hostility for years.
Palestinian protests, which began late Wednesday, continued into the early hours.
The legal case centers on the homes of four Palestinian families on land claimed by Jews.
Earlier this year, a Jerusalem district court ruled the homes legally belonged to the Jewish families, citing purchases decades ago.
The Jewish plaintiffs claimed their families lost the land during the war that accompanied Israel’s creation in 1948, a conflict that also saw hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced from their homes.
The Palestinian families implicated in the case have provided evidence that their homes were acquired from Jordanian authorities who controlled east Jerusalem from 1948 to 1967.
Amman has intervened in the case, providing documents to support the Palestinian claims.
Israel seized east Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it, in a move not recognized by most of the international community.
The district court ruling infuriated Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah who viewed it as a further step in what they see as a Jewish settler effort to drive Arabs out of east Jerusalem.
Weeks of clashes that have seen police use skunk water cannons and deploy anti-riot police on horseback have resulted in several arrests.
Israel’s Supreme Court has ordered the sides to seek a compromise.
Sami Irshid, a lawyer for the Palestinians, said the Nahalat Shimon settler movement proposed that one member of each concerned Palestinian family be recognized as a “protected tenant.”
That would temporarily delay eviction until the protected tenant died, at which point the home would return to Nahalat Shimon, Irshid said.
“We reject this completely,” Mona Al-Kurd, one of the Palestinian residents said.
“The settlers want us to recognize their property rights, it is impossible.”
Yehonatan Yosef, an activist with Nahalat Shimon, accused the Palestinian families of rejecting “any compromise.”
“It’s their problem,” he said, noting that if the Supreme Court ruled in the settlers’ favor, the Jewish families would do what they wished with each plot.
The Supreme Court has indicated that if the sides cannot reach a compromise, it will rule on whether the Palestinians can appeal the district court decision.
An appeal process could take years.
Mohammed Deif, the reclusive leader of the military wing of Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, issued a rare public warning on Tuesday, saying Israel would pay a “high price” over the Sheikh Jarrah dispute.
The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as their future capital, while Israel regards the entire city as its “undivided capital.”
Palestinian foreign minister Riyad Al-Maliki sent a letter to the International Criminal Court urging it to “to take a clear and public stand against crimes perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.”


Yemen PM allocates $7.9 million to fix damage caused by floods disaster

Yemen PM allocates $7.9 million to fix damage caused by floods disaster
Updated 06 May 2021

Yemen PM allocates $7.9 million to fix damage caused by floods disaster

Yemen PM allocates $7.9 million to fix damage caused by floods disaster

DUBAI: Yemen’s Prime Minister Maeen Abdelmalik Saeed has directed $7.9 million be approved urgently for the damage caused by the flood disaster in the Tarim District in Hadramout, state news agency SABA reported.

The prime minister visited the district on Wednesday to inspect the damage caused by the flooding and listened to a number of affected citizens who spoke about the material damages it caused.

Local residents called on the government and local authority to do their part towards those affected and take actions to prevent the recurrence of the disaster.

The prime minister indicated funds will be allocated to those affected by the floods, and repair the damaged services and infrastructure.

The Prime Minister emphasized that the recurrence of the floods, especially in Tarim, require sustainable solutions.

 


Israel bombs military targets near Syria’s occupied Golan

Israel bombs military targets near Syria’s occupied Golan
Updated 06 May 2021

Israel bombs military targets near Syria’s occupied Golan

Israel bombs military targets near Syria’s occupied Golan
  • Regime forces and operatives from Hezbollah were at the post
  • Three soldiers were injured in the attack

DUBAI: An Israeli helicopter targeted military posts near the occupied Golan heights late on Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
Regime forces and operatives from Hezbollah were at the post, which is near the town of Jubata Al-Khashab, north of Quneitra, the report added.
Three soldiers were injured in the attack, but the report hasn’t specified whether they were aligned with the regime or Hezbollah.
Israel fired missiles toward northwest Syria early Wednesday, killing one person and wounding six, Syrian state media reported.
It was the first Israeli attack on Syria since a missile fired by Damascus struck deep inside Israel two weeks ago.
The missiles targeted the northwestern towns of Haffeh and Masyaf and struck a civilian plastic warehouse among other locations, state TV said. Syrian air defense units responded to the missile attacks, the report said, without giving further details.
Israel has launched hundreds of strikes against Iran-linked military targets in Syria over the years but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations.
Israel views Iranian entrenchment on its northern frontier as a red line, and it has repeatedly struck Iran-linked facilities and weapons convoys destined for Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group.
The missile attack at dawn Wednesday occurred nearly two weeks after Israel’s military said a Syrian missile that reached deep into Israeli territory and set off air raid sirens near the country’s top-secret nuclear reactor was the result of a misfire and not a deliberate attack.
The missile landed in southern Israel on April 22, prompting Israel to respond with airstrikes on the missile launcher and other targets in Syria.