UN says Lebanon’s economic crisis blights Syrian refugees

UN says Lebanon’s economic crisis blights Syrian refugees
The yearly report on conditions of Syrians living in Lebanon is produced by the United Nations’ refugee agency, its World Food Program, as well as its children’s agency. (AFP)
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Updated 29 September 2021

UN says Lebanon’s economic crisis blights Syrian refugees

UN says Lebanon’s economic crisis blights Syrian refugees
  • The worsening conditions come despite increased assistance for Syrians living in Lebanon
  • Lebanon is experiencing a historic economic crisis that has caused the national currency to crash

BEIRUT: More than 1 million Syrian refugees in crisis-hit Lebanon are experiencing deteriorating conditions that have left nine out of ten of them in extreme poverty, UN agencies warned Wednesday.
The worsening conditions come despite increased assistance for Syrians living in Lebanon, where one in four people is a refugee. Among the Syrians, child marriage and labor is on the rise, while thousands are at risk of eviction.
The yearly report on conditions of Syrians living in Lebanon is produced by the United Nations’ refugee agency, its World Food Program, as well as its children’s agency.
The report said that the cost of an essential food basket has increased more than seven-fold since late 2019 when the financial crisis in Lebanon began to unfold. The subsistence food basket includes only 13 items, such as potatoes, bread, eggs and powdered milk. The UN describes it as the minimum to survive, “not live in dignity.”
Lebanon is experiencing a historic economic crisis that has caused the national currency to crash, losing 90 percent of its value, driving more than 55 percent of the population below the poverty line, and sending prices and unemployment soaring.
The crisis made things much worse for Syrian refugees, many of them already living in temporary housing and with low paying jobs.
Ayaki Ito, UNHCR Representative in Lebanon, warned of long-term consequences, urging stronger support for Lebanon and the refugees. “We cannot fail them now,” he said.
The UN agencies said Syrian children are bearing the brunt. School attendance for children between 6 and 14 years old dropped by 25 percent in 2021 while nearly 30 percent of children in school age have never attended. Thousands of Syrian children are engaged in child labor, and one out of five girls between the age of 15 and 19 were married, a trend that has been present for the last three years.
Syrians have escaped to Lebanon during the early years of the war in Syria which started in 2011. The Lebanese government closed the door for refugees in 2015, saying their numbers have become a burden on its government and infrastructure, but Syrians continued to arrive.
Making matters worse, almost 60 percent of Syrian refugee families are living in dangerous, substandard or overcrowded shelters, up from 50 percent last year.
The report said the increase of average rent is putting many at risk of eviction.


Japan’s foreign minister urges Iran to cooperate with IAEA

Japan’s foreign minister urges Iran to cooperate with IAEA
Updated 02 December 2021

Japan’s foreign minister urges Iran to cooperate with IAEA

Japan’s foreign minister urges Iran to cooperate with IAEA

TOKYO: Japan’s Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa on Thursday urged Iran to make serious efforts towards the immediate return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and to cooperate fully and immediately with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In a telephone conversation with Dr. Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Foreign Minister of Iran, Minister Hayashi also expressed his intention to cooperate with Minister Amir Abdollahian “to further strengthen and expand the historically friendly relationship between Japan and Iran in a wide range of fields.”

In response, Minister Amir Abdollahian expressed Iran’s intention to further deepen the long-established relationship between Japan and Iran, according to the foreign ministry in Tokyo.

The ministers exchanged candid views on the JCPOA in light of the talks among relevant parties that are taking place in Vienna.

In the talks, Minister Amir Abdollahian explained Iran’s stance on the nuclear issue, and both sides agreed to continue close communication on this matter.

Both ministers exchanged views on regional issues including the situation in Afghanistan, and confirmed that Japan and Iran will continue to cooperate towards the realization of peace and stability in Afghanistan, Japan’s foreign ministry said.

This story originally appeared on Arab News Japan


Iran gives European nuclear deal parties drafts on sanctions removal, nuclear issues

Iran gives European nuclear deal parties drafts on sanctions removal, nuclear issues
Updated 02 December 2021

Iran gives European nuclear deal parties drafts on sanctions removal, nuclear issues

Iran gives European nuclear deal parties drafts on sanctions removal, nuclear issues
  • A European diplomat confirmed draft documents had been handed over
VIENNA: Iran has provided European powers involved in its 2015 nuclear deal two drafts on sanctions removal and nuclear commitments, Iranian state media reported on Thursday.
“Iran’s chief negotiator, Ali Bagheri, announced at the Vienna talks that ...Iran has delivered its proposed text on two issues of lifting oppressive sanctions and nuclear issues,” the official IRNA news agency reported. It did not give further details.
A European diplomat confirmed draft documents had been handed over.

Israeli PM slammed for family trip amid travel restrictions

Israeli PM slammed for family trip amid travel restrictions
Updated 02 December 2021

Israeli PM slammed for family trip amid travel restrictions

Israeli PM slammed for family trip amid travel restrictions
  • Israelis are still allowed to fly to other countries and must quarantine when they return
  • Bennett was attacked by political rivals and everyday Israelis itching to return to normalcy

TEL AVIV, Israel: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett came under fire Thursday after his wife and children flew abroad just days after the Israeli leader urged citizens to avoid international travel because of the new coronavirus variant.
Gilat Bennett and her children took off Wednesday on a personal visit, triggering a storm of criticism against the prime minister for not following his own guidelines.
Their trip comes after Israel tightened travel restrictions in light of the omicron variant. Israel closed its border to foreign visitors and barred travel to much of Africa but Israelis are still allowed to fly to other countries and must quarantine when they return.
The episode drew comparisons to incidents at the beginning of the pandemic, when former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Israeli President Reuven Rivlin spent the Passover holiday with members of their family who lived outside their residence, even as they urged Israelis to celebrate away from their relatives. That sparked an outcry and raised questions about the public’s trust in leaders at a time of a major crisis.
Bennett was attacked by political rivals and everyday Israelis itching to return to normalcy.
“It’s a testament to his behavior, to his responsibility to the public, to the lack of personal example. He thinks he can do what he wants,” opposition lawmaker Israel Katz told Israeli Army Radio.
Israelis took to social media to berate the prime minister on his social media pages, questioning his leadership.
“Send regards to the family abroad while we are all languishing here with the restrictions,” a user named Anna Gechtman wrote.
In a Facebook post Wednesday answering questions about the new variant, Bennett was asked about his family’s trip and said they were not violating the new travel rules. He said they were expected to fly to a country that subsequently was banned to travel for Israelis and then changed their destination. He also said more had been revealed about where the virus has spread since his decision to limit travel.
“I understand the criticism,” Bennett wrote. “Everyone is leaving while following the restrictions and will of course quarantine as is required.”
Bennett on Friday announced the tightened measures in a press conference on Friday. He counselled Israelis not to bother booking holidays because he expected more countries to be added to the no-travel list.
“If you ask me, I don’t recommend flying abroad right now with such a level of uncertainty,” he said.


Arab coalition carries out air strikes on military targets in Sanaa, Saada

Arab coalition carries out air strikes on military targets in Sanaa, Saada
Updated 02 December 2021

Arab coalition carries out air strikes on military targets in Sanaa, Saada

Arab coalition carries out air strikes on military targets in Sanaa, Saada
  • Operation in Sanaa targeted one of the main stores of weapons and other supplies
  • The coalition also destroyed workshops that store ballistic missiles and drones in Saada

DUBAI: The Arab coalition on Thursday carried out air strikes on military targets in Yemen’s Sanaa and Saada, Al-Arabiya TV reported.
It further called on civilians not to approach the targeted sites.
The coalition said the operation in Sanaa targeted one of the main stores of weapons and other supplies. “In east of Sanaa, we destroyed two sites under construction as warehouses for military use,” it said.
The coalition also destroyed workshops that store ballistic missiles and drones in Saada.
Earlier on Wednesday, the coalition said they intercepted and destroyed a drone over Amran province after it was launched from Sanaa International Airport.
The Iran-backed Houthis have repeatedly target Saudi Arabia with explosive-rigged drones, mostly without causing much damage because of the Kingdom’s air defenses.
The coalition has carried out multiple sorties against targets in Sanaa, particularly hitting the airport after surveillance pictures and videos showed it has been converted into a military base for experts of the Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah.


Unvaccinated expats in Jordan face strict measures, including deportation

Unvaccinated expats in Jordan face strict measures, including deportation
Updated 02 December 2021

Unvaccinated expats in Jordan face strict measures, including deportation

Unvaccinated expats in Jordan face strict measures, including deportation
  • Foreign workers are allowed to receive the vaccine for free

DUBAI: Foreign workers who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 15 face strict measures from the government, including deportation.

“The decision aims to protect public health, noting that prompting foreign workers to get vaccinated protects them against future infections and disease transmission,” a report from state news agency Petra said, quoting a statement from Jordan’s interior ministry.

Foreign workers are allowed to receive the vaccine for free, without the need to present their residency or work permits.

A total 4,142,489 individuals have received their first COVID-19 jab, while 3,754,055 are now fully vaccinated, a health ministry briefer noted.

Health officials on Wednesday reported 5,047 new coronavirus infections, putting Jordan’s caseload to 958,990, with 56,991 active cases currently receiving treatment.

Jordanian authorities earlier declared that the country had entered a third wave of the coronavirus ‘with the increase in the number of delta variant infections and hospital admission rates.’ The second wave occurred during the first quarter of this year.

Authorities have banned travelers South Africa and six other African countries from entering the, with the emergence of the omicron COVID-19 strain from these nations. It was first detected in South Africa.