Lebanese PM calls for transparent probe into Tripoli boat capsize

Special Lebanese PM calls for transparent probe into Tripoli boat capsize
Mourners fire in the air during a funeral of a victim, killed after a boat loaded with migrants capsized near the coast of the northern city of Tripoli, in the northern Lebanese city on April 25, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 27 April 2022

Lebanese PM calls for transparent probe into Tripoli boat capsize

Lebanese PM calls for transparent probe into Tripoli boat capsize
  • Around 30 still missing since Saturday night
  • Depositors protest against capital control bill

BEIRUT: Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati has called for a swift and transparent probe into a tragic boat accident that left around 10 people dead, including an 18-month-old girl and her mother.

The vessel sank off the coast of Tripoli on Saturday night.

Mikati said that investigations should be conducted quickly and transparently, away from media pressure, and should include details of what happened even before the boat set off.

Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun, the director of Lebanese army intelligence Brig. Gen. Tony Kahwagi and the Commander of the Naval Forces Col. Haitham Dhanawy attended an emergency Cabinet session on Tuesday and gave a detailed presentation of what happened with the boat.

The army said the boat had left Lebanon’s coast illegally and that the boat’s captain had been trying to evade capture when the collision occurred. They said about 60 people had illegally boarded the boat and were headed to Italy and stressed that the army had nothing to do with the boat capsizing.

BACKGROUND

Mikati said that investigations should be conducted quickly and transparently, away from media pressure, and should include details of what happened even before the boat set off.

Several survivors have said that a Lebanese military vessel rammed the boat, leading it to sink. They said a security official aboard threatened to drown them if they did not comply and return to shore. They said the majority of those who were trying to escape did not know how to swim, including women and children.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said at the beginning of the Cabinet session: “What happened in Tripoli hurt us all,” adding that the court must investigate the incident amid conflicting stories, to clarify the truth, and put an end to any contradictory interpretations or explanations.

Ahmed Tamer, director of Tripoli port, said the search to find the missing passengers was ongoing and that a Greek frigate was taking part in the operation.

Dr. Khaldoun Al-Sherif, a political analyst from Tripoli, told Arab News: “The conflicting stories urged Mikati to insist on knowing what happened before the boat’s departure. The army says that it spotted the boat before it went out to sea but was unable to catch up and intercepted it when it was at sea. There is a missing link and an inconsistent narrative. The investigation should have started immediately and everything happening now is a waste of time.”

In Beirut, people continued to protest against a controversial capital control bill. Adopting a capital control law is one of the reforms requested by the International Monetary Fund to help the crisis-hit country.

Depositors blocked the roads leading to parliament on Tuesday to stop the joint parliamentary committees from continuing their discussions over the bill and successfully prevented MPs from achieving a quorum to hold the session.

George Adwan, head of the Administration and Justice Committee, called for rescheduling the capital control discussions until after the May 15 parliamentary elections. He stressed the need for a complete and comprehensive recovery plan that explained losses and their distribution according to responsibilities and the method for paying off losses.

“Successive governments and corrupt political officials are to blame along with the Banque du Liban, which is an accomplice to the state’s policies,” he added. “So why should we hold citizens and depositors responsible for all this? Any recovery plan must tell people how the economic, financial, and monetary situation will improve and how we will create growth and preserve the banking system after fixing the loopholes, instead of hiding behind what the IMF requested to grant Lebanon $3 billion over three years.”


Lebanon to set session to elect new president on Sept. 29

Lebanon to set session to elect new president on Sept. 29
Updated 9 sec ago

Lebanon to set session to elect new president on Sept. 29

Lebanon to set session to elect new president on Sept. 29
BEIRUT: Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri will call for a session to elect a new president on Sept. 29, an official source told Reuters, despite no political consensus on a candidate.
The session will be held just over a month before current President Michel Aoun’s term is set to end on Oct. 31.

100 dead in Lebanon migrant shipwreck off Syria: new toll

100 dead in Lebanon migrant shipwreck off Syria: new toll
Updated 27 September 2022

100 dead in Lebanon migrant shipwreck off Syria: new toll

100 dead in Lebanon migrant shipwreck off Syria: new toll

DAMASCUS: Syrian authorities have recovered 100 bodies from a Lebanese migrant boat that sank off Syria last week, state media reported about one of the deadliest recent shipwrecks in the eastern Mediterranean.
The first bodies were found last Thursday and only 20 people were rescued out of as many as 150 passengers.
“The number of victims of the Lebanese boat has reached 100 people so far after another body was recovered from the sea,” Syria’s official news agency SANA on Monday quoted the head of Syrian ports Samer Kbrasli as saying.
All survivors have been discharged from hospital, SANA said.
Nearly three years of deep economic crisis have turned Lebanon into a launchpad for migrants, with its own citizens joining Syrian and Palestinian refugees desperate to flee rising poverty via dangerous sea voyages.
Those aboard the ship that sailed from Lebanon’s impoverished northern city of Tripoli were mostly Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians, and included children and elderly people, the United Nations said.
Lebanon hosts more than a million refugees from Syria’s civil war and has been mired in a financial and economic crisis branded by the World Bank as one of the worst in modern times.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi described the shipwreck as a “heart-wrenching tragedy.”
Since 2020, Lebanon has seen a spike in the number of migrants attempting the perilous crossing in jam-packed boats to reach Europe.
The UN children’s agency UNICEF said that 10 children appeared to be “among those who lost their lives,” adding that “years of political instability and economic crisis in Lebanon have pushed many children and families into poverty.”


Iranians outraged after TikToker shot dead in protests

Iranians outraged after TikToker shot dead in protests
Updated 27 September 2022

Iranians outraged after TikToker shot dead in protests

Iranians outraged after TikToker shot dead in protests
  • Najafi was shot six times in the city of Karaj, receiving bullets in the face and neck

DUBAI: A funeral has been held for Hadis Najafi, a young Iranian woman who was shot dead by security forces during protests near Tehran.

Najafi was shot six times in the city of Karaj, and was hit by bullets in the face and neck, according to a report by Radio Farda.

Videos of Najafi's funeral has been circulated on social media as online users paid tribute to the 20-year-old.
She had earlier gone viral in a TikTok video where she was seen tying her hair and preparing to join the anti-government protests, which were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the ‘morality police’ for breaching the strict Hijab rules.
At least 41 people have been killed as Iran continues to crack down on the nationwide demonstrations.


Algeria’s UN integration will develop with support, says FM Lamamra

Algeria’s UN integration will develop with support, says FM Lamamra
Updated 27 September 2022

Algeria’s UN integration will develop with support, says FM Lamamra

Algeria’s UN integration will develop with support, says FM Lamamra
  • Algiers seeks non-permanent seat on Security Council
  • Candidacy endorsed by African, Arab and Islamic bodies

LONDON: Algeria’s development remains on track and will continue with the support of UN member states, the country’s foreign minister Ramtane Lamamra said on Monday.

During his speech at the General Assembly Debate, Lamamra also reaffirmed his country’s push for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

“My country is a member of the UN, it celebrates this year the 60th anniversary of independence,” he said. “It resolutely pursues the process of building a new Algeria under the leadership of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.”

He continued: “My country reaffirms its compliance with the values and principles (of the UN) and its determination to revive the role of multilateral action in keeping international peace and security and the achievement of comprehensive, fair, and sustainable development.”

Lamamra outlined Algeria’s commitment to the principles of the UN charter ahead of elections scheduled for next June on membership in the Security Council.

“Algeria is aware of the magnitude of unprecedented challenges that arise at the international and regional levels,” he said.

“Therefore, it has submitted its candidacy for the position of non-permanent member of the Security Council, a candidacy endorsed by the African Union, the League of Arab States, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.”

Lamamra also confirmed Algeria would host an Arab Summit on Nov. 1 and 2, and that Algiers “aspired to make this event a crucial step in the joint Arab action, for an effective contribution of the Arab world to dealing with the current challenges on the regional and international scenes.”


UAE lifts mandatory mask policy in indoor places

UAE lifts mandatory mask policy in indoor places
Updated 27 September 2022

UAE lifts mandatory mask policy in indoor places

UAE lifts mandatory mask policy in indoor places
  • Masks are still mandatory in medical facilities, place of worship, and public transport
  • The new rules, effective from Sept. 28, waived social distancing between worshipers

DUBAI: UAE residents are no longer required to wear masks in indoor public places, in the country’s biggest ease of restrictions since the outbreak of COVID-19, the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) announced.

However, masks are still mandatory in medical facilities, place of worship, and public transport, officials said.
“Senior citizens and residents and people with chronic diseases are advised to continue wearing masks for their safety,” according to Dr. Saif Al-Dhaheri, NCEMA’s official spokesperson.
The new rules, effective from Sept. 28, also waived social distancing between worshipers, while keeping the mask policy in mosques and other places of worship.
Shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak, the UAE placed a stringent mask policy in indoor and outdoor places, imposing $815 (Dh3,000) fine on violators.
In February, authorities lifted the requirement to wear masks outdoors.
Face masks will also be optional in schools.
Under the new rules, the isolation period for COVID-19 positive cases has been reduced from 10 days to five. Close contacts are required to take a PCR test only if they display symptoms.