No more kidney dialysis? Lebanese hospitals issue warning

No more kidney dialysis? Lebanese hospitals issue warning
Nurse checks a patient undergoes dialysis at the Lebanese American University Medical Center-Rizk Hospital in Beirut. Hospitals warned Thursday they may be forced to suspend kidney dialysis next week amid supply shortage. (AP)
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Updated 10 June 2021

No more kidney dialysis? Lebanese hospitals issue warning

No more kidney dialysis? Lebanese hospitals issue warning
  • As Central Bank’s foreign currency reserves dry up, Lebanon has been witnessing shortages in medicines
  • Lebanese American University Medical Center’s chief medical officer urged UN and WHO to send aid directly to hospitals

BEIRUT: Hospitals in Lebanon warned Thursday they may be forced to suspend kidney dialysis next week due to severe shortages in supplies, the latest in Lebanon’s accelerating crises and collapsing health sector.
Lebanon is grappling with an unprecedented economic and financial crisis that has seen the local currency collapse and banks clamp down on withdrawals and money transfers. As the Central Bank’s foreign currency reserves dry up, the country has been witnessing shortages in medicines, fuel and other basic goods, with long lines forming outside petrol stations.
The once-thriving health care system has been among the hardest hit, with some hospitals halting elective surgeries, laboratories running out of test kits and doctors warning in recent days that they may even run out of anesthesia for operations.
On Thursday, doctors said they may be forced to suspend kidney dialysis next, blaming shortages on a dispute between medical importers and the Central Bank over subsidies.
“It is a crime against humanity,” said George Ghanem, chief medical officer at the Lebanese American University Medical Center — Rizk Hospital, reading a statement on behalf of the doctors.
“The hospitals and medical sector cannot continue this way. We are approaching very difficult days where we will no longer be able to receive patients,” he added.
Ghanem appeal to the United Nations and the World Health Organization, urging them to step in by sending aid directly to hospitals or the Red Cross, bypassing the Lebanese government and Central Bank.
“Otherwise there are patients tomorrow who will not have their dialysis, patients who will not be diagnosed, and patients who will not be operated on,” he said. Already, there were 350 brands of basic medications that were in short supply, he added.
The crisis in Lebanon, which is rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement by an entrenched political class, has driven more than half of the population into poverty, caused the local currency to lose more than 85 percent of its value. The World Bank on Tuesday said Lebanon’s crisis is one of the worst the world has seen in the past 150 years.
The crisis has worsened considerably because of politicians’ inability to agree on a new government amid colossal challenges the country faces. The Cabinet of outgoing Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned days after a massive explosion at Beirut’s port last August, and the country has been without a fully functioning government since.
Locked in a power struggle, Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun and prime minister-designate Saad Hariri continue to trade blame as the country sinks deeper into crises that every day become more intractable.
The meltdown, with no end in sight, poses the gravest threat to Lebanon’s stability since the 1975-90 civil war.
“We are headed for a real catastrophe,” said Hala Kilani, the doctor in charge of the dialysis department at the LAUMC-Rizk Hospital. She said medical teams were fighting each day to secure the necessary amounts of filters needed to continue with dialysis and blood tests for patients. Even finding needles to administer blood for dialysis patients, who are usually anemic, is a struggle.
“We have to call one million pharmacies just to find one or two needles,” she told The Associated Press. “This is very dangerous.”
Issam Yassin, a 40-year-old on dialysis, said he was at a loss for words. “It is very difficult and it will be a catastrophe if it continues.”
“For us, if there is no dialysis there is no alternative,” he said.
Kilani, the doctor, said the current situation was worse than during Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war.
“We have honestly never reached the situation we are in now,” Kilani said. “If we cannot secure the supplies needed, the patients will die.”


Iran vote turnout poses test of youth frustrations and hopes

Iran vote turnout poses test of youth frustrations and hopes
Updated 14 June 2021

Iran vote turnout poses test of youth frustrations and hopes

Iran vote turnout poses test of youth frustrations and hopes
  • Young urban Iranians appear united only in their weariness with a cheerless status quo
  • All seven candidates have been wooing youthful voters and have used social media to reach the 60 percent of the 85 million population

DUBAI: Like many young Iranians yearning for democracy, Shirin doesn’t believe elected officials want to deliver greater political and social freedoms, and doubts Iran’s ruling theocracy would let them even if they tried.
How many share her frustration may become apparent in a June 18 vote, when Iran holds a presidential election seen as a referendum on the Islamic Republic’s handling of an array of political and economic crises.
Official polls suggest record low participation, a prospect critics of the government ascribe to economic hardship and to a lack of choice at the ballot box for an overwhelmingly young population chafing at political restrictions.
Religiously devout, less well-off communities are expected to go to the polls and vote for the hard-line front-runner, the strongly anti-Western Ebrahim Raisi, but young educated voters in towns and cities and some villages may well stay home.
After a hard-line election body barred heavyweight moderate and conservative candidates from standing in the race, young urban Iranians appear united only in their weariness with a cheerless status quo.
“I want freedom, I want democracy. Iranian presidents have no authority and desire to change our lives ... So why should I vote?” said French literature student Shirin, 22, from Tehran.
Like most other young people interviewed for this story, Shirin declined to be identified by her full name due to the sensitivity of the election contest.
Under Iran’s clerical system, the powers of the elected president are circumscribed by those of the hard-line supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in office since 1989.
Pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani won the presidency in 2013, bolstered by the support of many women and young people encouraged by his comments that Iranians deserved to live in a free country and have rights enjoyed by others around the world.
But critics say Rouhani, who is not permitted to run for a third consecutive term, has failed to make good on his pledges.
“I am undecided. I have always believed in voting and I voted for the incumbent president in the past two elections, said 28-year-old sales manager Sudabeh.
“But he could not fulfil his promises.”
Hundreds of Iranians at home and abroad – including relatives of dissidents killed since Iran’s 1979 revolution – have called for an election boycott. The hashtag #NoToIslamicRepublic has been widely tweeted by Iranians in the past weeks.
There is also lingering anger over the bloody suppression of a series of street protests in recent years and the military’s downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane in 2020 in what Iranian authorities said was an error.
All seven candidates – five hard-liners and two low-key moderates – have been wooing youthful voters in speeches and campaign messages and have used social media to reach the 60 percent of the 85 million population who are aged under 30.
Khamenei, like many other officials, has hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter and Instagram, although access to social media is officially blocked in Iran.
The ban rankles with many young Iranians. Many get around it by using virtual private networks, while insisting social media should be unblocked.
“Now that they need my vote to pursue their own political agenda, they promise unblocking the social media ban ... I will not vote as long as my freedoms are restricted,” said university student Saharnaz, 21, from the northern city of Sari.
Amid growing anger over economic hardship, candidates have promised to control galloping inflation, create jobs and end the rapid fall in the value of Iran’s currency without detailing their plans.
Jamshid, 27, from the southern city of Ahvaz, was skeptical.
“No, no, and no. I will not vote. I am jobless and hopeless. They get richer. Why should I vote in a system that is the source of my miserable life,” Jamshid said.
The economy, the authorities’ biggest challenge, is beset by mismanagement and US sanctions reimposed after the United States withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal three years ago.
Prices of basic goods like bread and rice rise daily. Meat is too dear for many, costing the equivalent of $40 for a kilogram. The minimum monthly wage equates to about $215. Iranian media regularly report layoffs and strikes by workers not paid for months.
Many voters preoccupied by bread-and-butter issues said they would vote for Raisi, a Shiite cleric who has been a strong advocate of Khamenei’s “resistance economy,” a project to increase self-reliance in Iranian manufacturing and services.
But taxi driver Alireza Dadvar supports low-key moderate former Central Bank chief Abdolnaser Hemmati.
“I don’t care about politics. I care about my family’s daily struggle ... Hemmati is the only candidate who can fix the economy,” said Dadvar, 41, a father of three in Isfahan.
Appointed by Khamenei as head of the judiciary in 2019, front-runner Raisi lost to Rouhani in a 2017 election. He is counting on poor Iranians to carry him to victory.
“Of course I will vote. It is my religious duty to vote and to choose a president who is loyal to the revolution. My vote will be a slap in the face of our enemies,” said first time voter Sajjad Akhbari from Tabriz, a city in north Iran.


Abu Dhabi removes UK, Tajikistan from COVID-19 Green List, adds Malta

Abu Dhabi removes UK, Tajikistan from COVID-19 Green List, adds Malta
Updated 14 June 2021

Abu Dhabi removes UK, Tajikistan from COVID-19 Green List, adds Malta

Abu Dhabi removes UK, Tajikistan from COVID-19 Green List, adds Malta
  • Passengers arriving from Green List countries will only be required to undergo a PCR test at Abu Dhabi Airport
  • The UK has placed the UAE on its red list where passengers arriving from the country must isolate in hotels after their arrival

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi has removed the UK and Tajikistan from its Green List of countries exempting travelers from quarantine requirements upon arrival in the emirate.
Passengers arriving from Green List countries will only be required to undergo a PCR test at Abu Dhabi Airport, the emirate’s Department of Culture and Tourism tweeted.
Both the UK and Tajikistan have been included in the list since April, while Malta was recently added to it.
The UK has placed the UAE on its red list where passengers arriving from the country must isolate in hotels after their arrival.
“Countries, regions, and territories included within the Green List will be regularly updated based on international developments,” the department said.
It added that the list only applies to countries passengers are arriving from rather than citizenship.

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Egypt sends letter to UN Security Council about Renaissance Dam

Egypt sends letter to UN Security Council about Renaissance Dam
Ethiopia began work on the dam in 2011. Egypt and Sudan are calling for a binding and comprehensive deal with Ethiopia that guarantees the rights and interests of all three countries. (AFP/File)
Updated 14 June 2021

Egypt sends letter to UN Security Council about Renaissance Dam

Egypt sends letter to UN Security Council about Renaissance Dam
  • Cairo fears the GERD will threaten its water supply from the Nile

CAIRO: Egypt has sent a letter to the head of the UN Security Council to highlight developments in the Grand Ethopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute, as it and Sudan drafted a resolution about the dam to be presented to Arab foreign ministers next week.

Ethiopia began work on the dam in 2011. Egypt fears the GERD will threaten its water supply from the Nile, while Sudan is concerned about the dam’s safety and its own water flow.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry’s letter to the UN Security Council included the country’s objection to Ethiopia’s intention to continue filling the dam during the upcoming flood season. It also expressed the government’s rejection of Ethiopia seeking to impose a fait accompli on the downstream countries through unilateral measures.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said the letter aimed to reveal the truth about the intransigent positions Ethiopia was taking as these were stalling the efforts made over the past months to reach a fair, balanced and legally binding agreement on the issue.

HIGHLIGHT

The Council of Arab States, at the level of foreign ministers, is scheduled to hold an extraordinary session in Doha on Tuesday at the request of Egypt and Sudan to discuss developments regarding the dam issue.

Hafez said that an integrated file was also deposited with the UN Security Council to serve as a reference for the international community on the issue, as well as to document the constructive and responsible positions taken by Egypt.
Hossam Zaki, assistant secretary-general of the League of Arab States, said there was an Arab consensus supporting Egypt and Sudan’s rights in the Nile waters and that there was not a single country outside this consensus.
He indicated that Ethiopia’s attempt to “drive a wedge” between Arab and African countries on the Renaissance Dam issue would not succeed.
The Council of Arab States, at the level of foreign ministers, is scheduled to hold an extraordinary session in Doha on Tuesday at the request of Egypt and Sudan to discuss developments regarding the dam issue, he added.
Zaki said the session would be held on the sidelines of the consultative meeting of Arab foreign ministers that was being held in Doha.
Egypt and Sudan are calling for a binding and comprehensive deal that guarantees the rights and interests of all three countries.


Greece says Turkish patrol boat damaged coast guard vessel

Greece says Turkish patrol boat damaged coast guard vessel
This handout picture released on January 29, 2020, by the Turkish Defence Ministry Press Service shows migrants in a rubber boat rescued by Turkish navy soldiers on January 28, 2020, off the Libyan coast. (AFP)
Updated 14 June 2021

Greece says Turkish patrol boat damaged coast guard vessel

Greece says Turkish patrol boat damaged coast guard vessel
  • Greece in April had accused Turkey of seeking to “provoke an escalation” in the Aegean with “dangerous” maneuvers and illegal assistance to migrants

ATHENS: The Greek coast guard said that one of its patrol vessels was “harassed” by a Turkish patrol boat on Sunday, causing minor damage, a day before the Greek and Turkish leaders hold talks in Brussels.
There were no injuries in the incident, which occurred east of the Aegean island of Lesbos, the coast guard said in a statement.
It said “a patrol vessel of the Turkish coast guard harassed a patrol boat of the Lesbos coast guard, causing minor damage.”
Such incidents are common in the Aegean Sea during patrols for boats carrying migrants from Turkey to Greece.

SPEEDREAD

• A patrol vessel of the Turkish coast guard ‘harassed a patrol boat of the Lesbos coast guard, causing minor damage.’

• Such incidents are common in the Aegean Sea during patrols for boats carrying migrants from Turkey to Greece.

• Greece had accused Turkey of seeking to ‘provoke an escalation’ in the Aegean with ‘dangerous’ maneuvers and illegal assistance to migrants.

Greece in April had accused Turkey of seeking to “provoke an escalation” in the Aegean with “dangerous” maneuvers and illegal assistance to migrants.
Athens wants Ankara to better police migration routes and take back hundreds of asylum seekers found ineligible for refugee protection.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is to hold talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels.
Mitsotakis said on Friday that good bilateral relations will depend on de-escalation efforts and on whether “Turkey participates constructively in the dialogue and respects the conditions set by the EU” in accordance with international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.


Algeria awaits results after voters snub elections

Algeria awaits results after voters snub elections
Algerian elections staff count ballots for parliamentary elections at a polling station in Bouchaoui, on the western outskirts of the capital Algiers, on June 12, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 14 June 2021

Algeria awaits results after voters snub elections

Algeria awaits results after voters snub elections
  • The movement has urged boycotts of all national polls since it mobilized hundreds of thousands of people in early 2019 to force longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his cronies from power

Algeria on Sunday awaited the results of a parliamentary election boycotted by the long-running Hirak protest movement and marked by widespread abstention.
Turnout was just 30.2 percent, electoral commission chief Mohamed Chorfi announced after Saturday’s vote — the lowest in a legislative poll at least 20 years.
He said it would be “96 hours” before official results are announced.
Fewer than 1 percent of registered voters cast their ballots in Kabylie, a mainly Berber region east of Algiers, and the cities of Bejaia and Tizi Ouzou.
“As expected, the majority of Algerians snubbed the ballot boxes. The low turnout confirms the strong trend toward rejecting the vote,” read the front page of French-language daily Liberte.
President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, himself elected on an official turnout of less than 40 percent in late 2019, put a brave face on the figures.
“For me, the turnout isn’t important. What’s important is whether the lawmakers that the people elect have enough legitimacy,” the president said.
The Hirak protest movement, which apart from a hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic had held twice-weekly demonstrations for reform until they were effectively banned last month, rejected the polls as a “sham.”
The movement has urged boycotts of all national polls since it mobilized hundreds of thousands of people in early 2019 to force longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his cronies from power.
But voting day was mainly calm, except in Kabylie, where ballot boxes were ransacked and security forces detained dozens of people, rights groups said.
Two prominent journalists detained on the eve of the election and released Saturday, Khaled Drareni and Ihsane El Kadi, condemned their “arbitrary” arrests.
“I believe you have the right to know that two journalists ... were subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention for no apparent reason,” Drareni wrote on his Facebook page.