Boards against boredom: Libya rolls out first skatepark

The new playground has been financed by the US Embassy in Tripoli and built by the Make Life Skate Life NGO with the contribution of volunteers from all over the world. (AFP)
The new playground has been financed by the US Embassy in Tripoli and built by the Make Life Skate Life NGO with the contribution of volunteers from all over the world. (AFP)
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Updated 31 May 2022

Boards against boredom: Libya rolls out first skatepark

The new playground has been financed by the US Embassy in Tripoli and built by the Make Life Skate Life NGO. (AFP)
  • Australian Wade Trevean, who designed the 800-square-meter Tripoli site, said volunteers had come from far and wide to help build it, a process that took about six weeks

TRIPOLI: Libyan Mohamed Abderraouf put a foot on his board and launched himself across Tripoli’s first skatepark, a welcome break in the conflict-battered capital with few facilities for bored young people.
“I can’t describe the joy,” said the 18-year-old, who bought his first skateboard in 2020 and had only been able to practice on street corners — until now. “I’m going to come a couple of times a week.”
The free, open-air facility opened over the weekend in central Tripoli, to the delight of young skaters who spent the afternoon sweeping up and down the halfpipes and taking selfies with their friends.
“I’m really happy, because before there wasn’t a dedicated place for skating,” said Rayan Al-Omar, 18, who has been skating for a year.
The US-funded facility was built by Make Life Skate Life, a charity that has set up “free-of-charge, community-built concrete skateparks” in Iraq, Bolivia and India.
Australian Wade Trevean, who designed the 800-square-meter Tripoli site, said volunteers had come from far and wide to help build it, a process that took about six weeks. “There are people from New York, people from Belgium, Germany or Australia,” Trevean said. “The happiness and positivity here are amazing.”
Local skaters played a role in the project too, part of a seaside park that also includes a cycling route and five-a-side football pitches.
The rest of the complex was completed a year ago on the site of a former base of the “Amazons,” the entourage of female bodyguards of deposed dictator Muammar Qaddafi, and seen as a symbol of the tyrant’s extravagance.
Since he was overthrown and killed in a 2011 revolt, Tripoli has endured successive waves of violence, meaning few resources were put into leisure facilities — already almost nonexistent under Qaddafi.
So almost two years since the guns fell silent following the last major battle on the edges of the capital, the opening of a skatepark in Tripoli generated a lot of attention.


Iran denies security forces killed 16-year-old, says she fell off roof-Iranian media

Iran denies security forces killed 16-year-old, says she fell off roof-Iranian media
Updated 57 min 57 sec ago

Iran denies security forces killed 16-year-old, says she fell off roof-Iranian media

Iran denies security forces killed 16-year-old, says she fell off roof-Iranian media
  • Rights groups say more than 150 people have been killed
  • Women have played a prominent role, waving and burning headscarves

DUBAI: Iranian authorities have denied reports security forces killed a 16-year-old girl during protests ignited by the death of a woman in police custody, Iranian media reported on Friday, saying she committed suicide by falling off a roof.
Social media reports and rights group Amnesty International have said Sarina Esmaeilzadeh was killed by security forces when she was struck with batons on the head during protests over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in morality police custody.
Authorities earlier this week gave a similar cause of death — falling off a roof — for 17-year-old Nika Shakarami, who activists say was killed in Tehran while demonstrating over Amini’s death.
Rights groups say more than 150 people have been killed, hundreds have been injured and thousands arrested in a crackdown on nationwide protests marking the biggest challenge to Iran’s clerical leadership in years.
Women have played a prominent role, waving and burning headscarves. High school girls have also taken part.
The chief justice of Alborz province where Esmaeilzadeh died said a preliminary investigation showed her death was caused by suicide from a fall from the roof of a five-story building, the semi-official ISNA news agency said.
Chief justice Hossein Fazeli Herikandi said claims in opposition media about her death were “lies.” “Based on her mother’s account, Esmaeilzadeh had a history of suicide attempts,” he said. Police received a report of her death on Sept. 24, he said.
Reuters could not reach her family for comment.
Amnesty International, in a Sept. 30 report, said she was one of at least 52 people killed by security forces between Sept. 19 and Sept. 25, saying Esmaeilzadeh “died after being severely beaten in the head with batons.”
A video showing Esmaeilzadeh smiling and listening to music has been viewed around 147,000 times on the widely-followed 1500tasvir Twitter account.
Amini was arrested on Sept. 13 in Tehran for “inappropriate attire.” The authorities have said she suffered a heart attack after being taken to a station to be “educated.”
Her family have denied she had any heart problems. Her father has said she had bruises on her legs, and holds police responsible for her death.
The government has ordered an investigation.
Earlier this week, state media said a judicial case had been opened into Shakarami’s death, citing officials claiming it had nothing to do with the unrest, and that she had fallen off a roof and her body contained no bullet wounds. Activists have said she was killed in Tehran while demonstrating.


Lebanon inspecting new suspected cases of cholera

Lebanon inspecting new suspected cases of cholera
Updated 07 October 2022

Lebanon inspecting new suspected cases of cholera

Lebanon inspecting new suspected cases of cholera
  • News comes almost a month after an outbreak of the illness in neighboring war-torn Syria
  • A cholera infection is caused by consuming food or water infected with the Vibrio cholerae bacteria
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s health minister said on Friday that authorities are inspecting suspected cases of cholera, less than a day after the cash-strapped country confirmed its first case of the illness since 1993.
The news came almost a month after an outbreak of the illness in neighboring war-torn Syria.
Firas Abiad, Lebanon’s caretaker health minister, said in a press conference that the first case was a middle-aged Syrian refugee man living in the impoverished northern province of Akkar, and confirmed a second case in the area.
“There are several other suspected cases,” Abiad said. “Cholera is an illness that is easily transmissible.”
The developments take place as Lebanon's economy continues to spiral, plunging three-quarters of its population into poverty. Rampant power cuts, water shortages, and skyrocketing inflation have deteriorated living conditions for millions.
The Lebanese health minister added that the authorities have been working with the United Nations Children’s Fund and World Health Organization for weeks to ensure the cash-strapped country can respond to a possible outbreak, and expand testing capacities at hospitals and labs.
“We're making sure that there is safe water and a good sewage system,” Abiad said.
According to the WHO, a cholera infection is caused by consuming food or water infected with the Vibrio cholerae bacteria, and while most cases are mild to moderate, not treating the illness could lead to death.
About 1 million Syrian refugees who fled their country’s civil war reside in neighboring Lebanon. Most live in extreme poverty in tented settlements or in overcrowded apartments.
Poverty has also deepened for many Lebanese, with many families often rationing water, unable to afford private water tanks for drinking and domestic use.
The health minister said Lebanon has secured the necessary equipment and medicines to treat patients.
Richard Brennan, Regional Emergency Director of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region told The Associated Press Thursday that the organization has also been coordinating with other countries neighboring Syria to help respond to a possible outbreak.
However, he said vaccines are in short supply due to global demand.
The UN and Syria’s Health Ministry have said the source of the outbreak is likely linked to people drinking unsafe water from the Euphrates River and using contaminated water to irrigate crops, resulting in food contamination.
Syria’s health services have suffered heavily from its years-long war, while much of the country is short on supplies to sanitize water.
Syrian health officials as of Wednesday documented at least 594 cases of cholera and 39 deaths. Meanwhile, in the rebel-held northwest of the country, health authorities documented 605 suspected cases, dozens of confirmed cases, and at least one death.

Lebanese banks close again after holdups by depositors seeking their own money

Lebanese banks close again after holdups by depositors seeking their own money
Updated 07 October 2022

Lebanese banks close again after holdups by depositors seeking their own money

Lebanese banks close again after holdups by depositors seeking their own money
  • Banks will continue urgent operations for clients and back-office services for businesses

BEIRUT: Lebanese banks have unanimously decided to close their doors to clients indefinitely after a series of holdups by depositors seeking funds frozen in the banking system because of the country’s financial meltdown, two bankers told Reuters.
Banks will continue urgent operations for clients and back-office services for businesses, the bankers said, but front-office services will remain suspended after more than a dozen holdups in less than a month.
Banks closed for about a week last month in similar circumstances, but reopened at the beginning of October to allow employees to withdraw salaries.
Lebanon’s banks association has previously called on the government to enact formal capital controls to replace the informal controls banks adopted in 2019, but parliament has repeatedly failed to pass the law.
The government has made little progress toward reforms that would unlock an International Monetary Fund bailout to help ease a crisis caused by decades of wasteful spending and corruption.
Now in its third year, Lebanon’s financial meltdown has sunk the currency by more than 90 percent, spread poverty, paralyzed the financial system and frozen depositors out of their savings in Lebanon’s most destabilising crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.


Arab states condemn armed attack on kindergarten in Thailand

Arab states condemn armed attack on kindergarten in Thailand
Updated 07 October 2022

Arab states condemn armed attack on kindergarten in Thailand

Arab states condemn armed attack on kindergarten in Thailand
  • The foreign ministries of the UAE,  Jordan and Egypt released statements on Thursday strongly condemning the attack

Several Arab states condemned an attack on a preschool daycare center in Thailand that killed at least 36 people, most of them children. 

The foreign ministries of the UAE,  Jordan and Egypt released statements on Thursday strongly condemning the attack and expressing sincere condolences to the Thai government and families of the victims, wishing a speedy recovery for those injured.

Meanwhile, Kwauti’s Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf al-Sabah sent a cable of condolences to King Maha Vajiralongkorn. 

Police identified the killer as 34-year-old Panya Kamrab, a former police sergeant who was dismissed from service in January. According to a police report seen by Arab News, he was sacked after being found in possession of narcotics.

Panya is thought to have gone to the daycare center to find his son but when he failed to find the boy he began shooting. He then returned home, where he killed his wife and child.


Houthi landmine blast kills two Yemeni children, injures one

Houthi landmine blast kills two Yemeni children, injures one
Updated 07 October 2022

Houthi landmine blast kills two Yemeni children, injures one

Houthi landmine blast kills two Yemeni children, injures one
  • The Iran-backed group has refused to renew the UN-brokered cease-fire

DUBAI: Two children were killed and one was critically injured after landmine, planted by Houthi militants in Magzer district of Yemen’s Marib governorate, detonated.

The fatalities have been identified as eight-year-old Saqer Mohamed Sinan and 12-year-old Qa’ed Abdullah Khaimah Ashareef, while 13-year-old Ghazi Faraj Ahmed Sinan suffered serious injuries, Yemeni News Agency reported.

Villagers in the district have reported that the Houthis have been adamant not to extract the landmines they have randomly and intensively planted in roads, farms and residential areas.

Saudi Arabia’s Project Masam has so far located and destroyed 360,573 explosive devices including 5,672 anti-personnel mines, 132,637 anti-tank mines, 7,486 IEDs and 214,778 unexploded ordnances in Yemeni liberated areas since it was launched mid-2018.

The Iran-backed group has refused to renew the UN-brokered cease-fire, which took effect in April and has twice been renewed, and has resumed aggressive military operations in Marib, Taiz and Dhale after the last truce expired on Sunday.