Boat carrying 60 migrants capsizes off north Lebanon

Lebanese people walk by the shores of Al-Mina in the Lebanese port city of Tripoli north of Beirut on Dec. 13, 2021. (AFP)
Lebanese people walk by the shores of Al-Mina in the Lebanese port city of Tripoli north of Beirut on Dec. 13, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 24 April 2022

Boat carrying 60 migrants capsizes off north Lebanon

Boat carrying 60 migrants capsizes off north Lebanon
  • The boat carrying passengers departed illegally from the Qalamoun area, south of Tripoli
  • The government said Prime Minister Najib Mikati is following the incident

BEIRUT: A boat carrying 60 migrants capsized Saturday night off the Lebanese coast, the Lebanese Red Cross said. It was not immediately clear if there were any deaths.
The Red Cross said it sent 10 ambulances to the port of the northern city of Tripoli in case there were casualties.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s office said the boast capsized shortly after leaving the northern coastal town of Qalamoun near Tripoli, Lebanon’s second largest city.
Mikati’s office said the Lebanese army and authorities were on high alert following the case.
An AFP correspondent in northern Lebanon said the army had closed off the port, allowing entry only to ambulances which were zipping in and out.
Families of some of the passengers started gathering to check on their loves ones but they too were denied access.
The fate of the passengers was not immediately clear.
For many years Lebanon was a country that took in refugees, but since the country’s economic meltdown began in October 2019, thousands of people have left on boats heading to Europe.
Lebanon, a small Mediterranean nation of 6 million people, including 1 million Syrian refugees, is in the grip of the worst economic crisis in the country’s modern history. The economic meltdown has put more three-quarters of the country’s population into poverty.
The UN refugee agency says at least 1,570 people, 186 of them Lebanese, left or tried to leave illegally by sea from Lebanon between January and November 2021.
Most were hoping to reach European Union member Cyprus, an island 175 kilometers (110 miles) away.
This is up from 270 passengers, including 40 Lebanese, in 2019.
Most of those trying to leave Lebanon by sea are Syrian refugees, but Lebanese have increasingly joined their ranks.
(With AFP and AP)


Canada, Egypt discuss aspirations to boost bilateral cooperation 

Canada, Egypt discuss aspirations to boost bilateral cooperation 
Updated 16 sec ago

Canada, Egypt discuss aspirations to boost bilateral cooperation 

Canada, Egypt discuss aspirations to boost bilateral cooperation 
  • Foreign Affairs minister says Egypt hopes Canada will increase investments in the country

CAIRO: Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry met with Canadian Minister of International Development Harjit Sajan on Sunday to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral relations and other topics of common interest, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry reported.

Shoukry emphasized the remarkable increase in cooperation between the two countries in recent years and discussed with Sajan the importance of developing relations across various fields, including health, rural development, women’s empowerment and capacity-building within the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals framework.

The two parties also discussed ways to address developmental and economic challenges at the international and regional levels. 

Shoukry expressed Egypt’s desire to increase the volume of existing projects and, indirectly, Canadian investment in the country.

As the president-designate of the upcoming UN Conference of the Parties on Climate Change, or COP27, Shoukry reviewed the most recent developments concerning Egypt’s hosting of the conference in Sharm El-Sheikh this November. 

He reiterated Egypt’s vision for COP27, which focuses on moving from promises to actual implementation of initiatives, building on the momentum gained at COP26 to mobilize support for global climate action. 


Kuwait’s Nayef Palace granted Islamic Heritage Site status

Kuwait’s Nayef Palace granted Islamic Heritage Site status
Updated 15 August 2022

Kuwait’s Nayef Palace granted Islamic Heritage Site status

Kuwait’s Nayef Palace granted Islamic Heritage Site status
  • ICESCO award recognizes historical significance of 219-room building
  • Decision marks another cultural milestone for Kuwait, official says

KUWAIT: Naif Palace in Kuwait City has been designated an Islamic Heritage Site by the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the Kuwait News Agency reported on Monday.

Dr. Waleed Al-Saif, president of the heritage committee of the Islamic world at ICESCO, said the decision to recognize the palace was made during the committee’s 10th session in Rabat.

He hailed it as another cultural milestone for the country.

Kuwait’s Kazma area, Failaka Island and Al-Qurainya are already on the list.

Other Kuwaiti sites that made the ICESCO preliminary list were: Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jabir Palace, Mubarak Al-Kabeer marine reserve and Boubyan Island.

According to Al-Saif, the committee has members from nine Islamic nations chosen by the culture ministers of 54 Muslim countries.

He said the decision to make Naif Palace an Islamic Heritage Site was made in accordance with international standards of evaluation, adding that such monuments needed to be preserved and protected for future generations.

Naif Palace, which covers an area of 28,802 square meters, was built in 1919, during the reign of Emir Sheikh Salem Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah. It has 219 rooms and also houses a mosque, a garrison dormitory and an ammunition depot.

The palace was expanded in 1950 and now serves a ceremonial role during Ramadan, with a canon drill performed and broadcast on national TV to signal the breaking of fast.


Muslim rescues children from Egypt church fire

Muslim rescues children from Egypt church fire
Updated 15 August 2022

Muslim rescues children from Egypt church fire

Muslim rescues children from Egypt church fire
  • Muhammad Yahya: I quickly entered the church to save people … and I encountered a lot of fire and smoke
  • The density of the fumes obstructed Yahya’s breathing and vision, so he took off his T-shirt, doused it in water and placed it over his nose to block the fumes

CAIRO: A young Egyptian Muslim rescued five children from Sunday’s fire at the Abu Sefein church in the city of Giza, which killed 41 people and injured 14.

“I quickly entered the church to save people … and I encountered a lot of fire and smoke,” said Muhammad Yahya, who lives next door and was injured during the rescue.

He added that he headed to the church because he heard screams from inside the building. The density of the fumes obstructed Yahya’s breathing and vision, so he took off his T-shirt, doused it in water and placed it over his nose to block the fumes from his respiratory path.

He tried to rescue an elderly man by carrying him on his back, but he slipped due to the large amount of water used to extinguish the fire, and they both fell to the ground.

Yahya broke his leg in the fall and was taken to hospital. He has been visited by priests checking on his health and thanking him for his bravery.


UN envoy says opening roads in Taiz, other Yemeni governorates remains at forefront of efforts

UN envoy says opening roads in Taiz, other Yemeni governorates remains at forefront of efforts
Updated 15 August 2022

UN envoy says opening roads in Taiz, other Yemeni governorates remains at forefront of efforts

UN envoy says opening roads in Taiz, other Yemeni governorates remains at forefront of efforts
  • UN envoy expressed gratitude for the support of Saudi Arabia, Oman, and UN Security Council
  • Highlighted responsibility of helping Yemen and its people to take the necessary and decisive steps toward peace

LONDON: The UN special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg said on Monday the opening of roads in Taiz and other Yemeni governorates remains at the forefront of his efforts.

Whilst briefing the UN Security Council on the situation in the country, Grundberg said that despite several proposals being presented to the parties, there has been no progress on the issue.

“Several proposals with different sets of roads and sequencing options have been presented to the parties. It is regrettable that, despite these efforts, there has not been more progress achieved on road openings to date,” Grundberg said. 

The UN envoy also expressed gratitude “for the concerted support” of Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the UN Security Council.

He highlighted the joint responsibility of helping Yemen and its people to take the necessary and decisive steps toward peace to end the conflict and not merely manage it.

He also told the council that since the start of the truce in April, 33 ships were cleared to enter Hodeidah port, bringing in one million metric tons of much-needed fuel products. 

In addition to this, 31 round-trip flights were operated to and from Sanaa, transporting more than 15,000 passengers, he said.

He said that as a result of the support provided by Jordan, the frequency of commercial flights between Sanaa and Amman has increased to three per week.

Grundberg said the latest truce extension that was announced on August 2 “allows us to continue to expeditiously work toward an expanded truce agreement.”

He continued: “I am therefore intensifying my efforts to support the parties in resolving outstanding issues.

“In my discussions with the parties, they continue to emphasize the need to build on the existing truce to achieve a wider array of economic and security priorities and to move toward more durable solutions for issues with political implications.”


Fire-ravaged Abu Sefein Church to undergo repairs

Fire-ravaged Abu Sefein Church to undergo repairs
Updated 15 August 2022

Fire-ravaged Abu Sefein Church to undergo repairs

Fire-ravaged Abu Sefein Church to undergo repairs
  • Egypt’s Armed Forces Engineering Authority tasked with project
  • Cash support for victims’ families from Al-Azhar and the government

CAIRO: President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has tasked the Armed Forces Engineering Authority to restore the Abu Sefein church, which was damaged by a fire that killed 41 people and injured 16 others on Sunday.

Hisham El-Swefy, head of the authority, telephoned Pope Tawadros II to inform him of the plan.

Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb has come to the aid of the families of the victims and is coordinating cash payouts for them with various NGOs.

Al-Tayeb sent a message of support to Pope Tawadros II.

“Al-Azhar and its scholars and sheikhs all stand by their brothers in this tragic accident and extend their sincere condolences to the families of the victims,” he said.

El-Sisi had earlier received messages of condolences from the presidents of Tunisia and Lebanon following the tragedy.

Prosecutor General Hamada El-Sawy confirmed that the Public Prosecution authority had completed its investigation into the incident and found that the victims had died of smoke inhalation.

El-Sawy said that 41 people had died, and 16 others, including four police officers, were injured.

El-Sawy stated that the authority had completed its questioning of the injured people.

The Egyptian Ministry of Interior confirmed that an electrical fault caused the fire, and that it broke out in the air-conditioning system on the second floor of the church building, which includes a number of classrooms.

Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly directed the Minister of Social Solidarity to pay compensation of EGP100,000 ($5,226) to every victim’s family, and a maximum of EGP20,000 ($1,045) to every injured person.

In an earlier statement, the Coptic Orthodox Church had said that the fire broke out during the Divine Liturgy at the building in the north of Giza, and that several worshipers were transferred to the Imbaba and Agouza hospitals.