A Bundle Of English Reports, News and Editorials For March 19-20/2020 Addressing All That is happing In the Iranian Occupied & Oppressed Lebanon

27

A Bundle Of English Reports, News and Editorials For March 19-20/2020 Addressing All That is happing In the Iranian Occupied & Oppressed Lebanon
Compiled By: Elias Bejjani
March 20/2020

LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on March 19-20/2020
St. Joseph’s Day/Elias Bejjani/March 20/20
Coronavirus Cases Rise to 149 in Lebanon, Ministry Urges Citizens to Abide by Quarantine
Who Convinced & Lured Amer Fakhoury To Go To Lebanon?/Dr.Walid Phares/Face Book/March 19/2020
Trump Thanks Lebanon after Fakhoury Returns to U.S.
U.S. Senator Says Fakhoury ‘is Finally Coming Home’
American accused of human rights violations freed in Lebanon
Cabinet decides to distribute social assistance to citizens whose work was disrupted
Kubis relays to Hitti Guterres’ message of solidarity with Lebanon
‘Strong Lebanon’ holds online meeting amid coronavirus outbreak
‘Loyalty to Resistance’ backs government’s anti-coronavirus measures, condemns Fakhoury’s release
Lebanese Govt. to Distribute Aid to Citizens Out of Work Due to Virus Lockdown
UN Conveys Support for Lebanon
Hasan Asks for Isolating Jbeil, Keserwan, Warns over Virus Cases Surge
Hout Says MEA Will Recover after Coronavirus Lockdown
Abide by the Decisions of Specialists to Fight Coronavirus, Hariri Says
‘Better than Switzerland’: Why Lebanon’s drastic coronavirus response is succeeding in flattening the epidemic curve/The New Arab/March 19/2020
Lebanon should not be used as a pawn any longer/Khaled Abou Zahr/Arab News/March 19/ 2020
‘Impunity is a pattern’: The lawyers taking on torture in Lebanon’s prisons/Alicia Medina/The New Arab/March 19/2020
As Lebanon suffers equipment shortages, these hero women are making coronavirus protective gear from scratch/The New Arab/March 19/2020
The viruses of Lebanon/More debilitating than COVID-19 are the terrorists beholden to Iran’s rulers/Clifford D. May/FDD Founder & President/March 19/2020
Lebanese NGOs supporting the elderly forced to adapt to coronavirus pandemic/Emily Lewis/ Al Arabiya English/March 19/2020

The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on March 19-20/2020
St. Joseph’s Dayعيد ما يوسف البتول
Elias Bejjani/March 19/20
The feast day of St. Joseph is celebrated annually on March 19/Our Bejjani family has proudly carried this name generation after generation for centuries and still do. May God and His angles safeguard our caring and loving son Youssef, and our grandson Joseph, who both carry this blessed name. It is worth mentioning that St. Joseph’s Day is a Maronite and Roman Catholic feast day that commemorates the life of St. Joseph, the step-father of Jesus and husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. People with very strong religious convictions among which are the Lebanese Maronites celebrate St. Joseph’s Day on March 19 and believe that this day is St. Joseph’s birthday too. Back home, in Lebanon St. Joseph is considered the Family Saint and looked upon as a family and hardworking father role model because of the great role that Almighty God had assigned him to carry. His duty was to raise Jesus Christ and take care of Virgin Mary. God has chose him to look after His begotten son and Virgin Marry. He fulfilled his Godly assignment with love, passion and devotion. May Al Mighty God bless all those that carry this name.

Coronavirus Cases Rise to 149 in Lebanon, Ministry Urges Citizens to Abide by Quarantine
Naharnet/March 19/2020
Lebanon’s Health Ministry on Thursday released its daily report on the COVID-19 saying the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases has reached 149. It added that the tally includes those diagnosed at the Rafik Hariri University Hospital and those reported by other university hospitals accredited by the Ministry. The report said the Ministry continues to run tests on samples taken from people suspected to have contracted the virus, while identifying and monitoring their contacts, and carefully watching all arrivals from countries experiencing a spread of the virus.
The Ministry is also conducting epidemiological tracking to pinpoint the source of infection for some of the newly diagnosed cases. The Ministry urged all citizens to adhere to the strict measures issued by the official authorities, especially the mandatory home quarantine, and to refrain from going outdoors unless it is absolutely necessary.

Who Convinced & Lured Amer Fakhoury To Go To Lebanon?
Dr.Walid Phares/Face Book/March 19/2020
According to sources with professional knowledge, it is expected that the US Government will learn about how Mr Fakhoury, a US citizen who was arrested in Lebanon last September and repatriated today, was “lured” into traveling to Lebanon, and by whom. Members of Congressional committees will most likely want to investigate how a US citizen was convinced by Lebanese individuals to go to Lebanon, before he was arrested.

Trump Thanks Lebanon after Fakhoury Returns to U.S.
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/March 19/2020
U.S. President Donald Trump has confirmed that former Khiyam Prison warden Amer Fakhoury was released Thursday to the United States, where he is a naturalized citizen. Trump said that Fakhoury, a former member of the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army militia who was detained on his return to Beirut in September, was suffering late-stage cancer. He added that Fakhoury “will now be able to receive the much needed care and treatment in the United States.” “We’ve been working very hard to get him freed. He’s finally able to have his entire family at his side,” Trump told reporters at the start of a daily news conference on the coronavirus pandemic. “The United States has no higher priority than the safety and well-being of our citizens,” he said. “I’m very grateful to the Lebanese government. They worked with us,” Trump added.
After his arrest, a Lebanese security source said Fakhoury had already been sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison for collaborating with Israel. He served as a senior warden in the notorious Khiyam prison, which was opened in 1984 by the SLA after Israel occupied southern Lebanon in what it called a security zone. Former inmates accuse Fakhoury of ordering the torture of thousands of detainees held there before Israeli forces withdrew from the area in 2000, ending their 22-year occupation of south Lebanon.
“Not a single person held in Khiyam was spared physical and psychological torture,” Abbas Qabalan, who was detained there from 1987 to 1988, said as he took part in a demonstration last year in Beirut. He accused Fakhoury both of ordering and personally taking part in beatings of inmates.
But a senior U.S. official cast doubt on Fakhoury’s involvement and suggested the allegations were put forward for political reasons. “There have been many dozens of Lebanese affiliated with Khiam Prison who have been convicted of torture and other crimes. Fakhoury’s name has never been mentioned in any of those allegations and he was never charged for that,” David Schenker, the assistant secretary of state for the Near East, told reporters. He said that the State Department spoke to Fakhoury’s lawyers, who challenged the credibility of five witnesses, saying three had been in Israeli rather than SLA custody. “This was a political football from day one and has been manipulated, I think, for political purposes in Lebanon, even trying to leverage it for some sort of prisoner exchange,” Schenker said.
Hilal Salman, another former inmate, blamed Fakhoury for his brother’s death. “My brother was killed there in 1989 because of a gas bomb thrown at inmates on the orders of two prison heads, including Amer al-Fakhoury,” he said. Schenker said that the U.S. government was bringing back Fakhoury on a medivac and that he would undergo hospital care on his return for lymphoma. He said the situation had become increasingly urgent due to coronavirus. The United States has a complicated relationship with Lebanon, where 241 U.S. troops were killed in a 1983 truck bombing during the country’s sectarian civil war and Israel’s occupation of Lebanon. Last year, the Trump administration held up $100 million in military assistance to Lebanon for months as it sought to curb the influence of Hizbullah, the Iranian-allied armed group and political party.

U.S. Senator Says Fakhoury ‘is Finally Coming Home’

Associated Press/Naharnet/March 19/2020
A Lebanese-American citizen who had faced decades-old murder and torture charges in Lebanon has been freed, a U.S. senator who had pushed for his release announced Thursday.
Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen said in a statement that she had spoken with Amer Fakhoury on the phone soon after his release. Lebanese officials alleged that Fakhoury, 57, of Dover, New Hampshire, who had been jailed since September, was responsible for the killings and abuse of prisoners in Lebanon as part of the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army militia two decades ago. His case had put a significant strain on already troubled ties between the U.S. and Lebanon. Lawmakers in Washington had threatened to withhold critical aid to the country and impose sanctions on the Lebanese military, which is seen by the Trump administration as a bulwark against Iranian-backed Hizbullah. “Anytime a U.S citizen is wrongfully detained by a foreign government, we must use every tool at our disposal to free them,” Shaheen said in her statement. “I’m very glad that Amer is finally coming home and will be reunited with his family. No family should have to go through what the Fakhoury family has gone through,” she added. Hours before Shaheen announced Fakhoury’s release a U.S. Marine Osprey was seen landing at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
Fakhoury was ordered released on Monday because more than 10 years had passed since he allegedly tortured prisoners at a jail run by the South Lebanon Army militia. But he was not immediately allowed to leave the country after a Lebanese military judge on Tuesday appealed the decision, asking the Military Court of Appeals strike down the decision to free Fakhoury. A judge of urgent matters in the southern town of Nabatiyeh issued a ruling preventing Fakhoury from leaving Lebanon for two months. Judge Ahmad Mezher’s decision came after a request filed by former inmates. Fakhoury is a former SLA member who became a U.S. citizen last year. His case has been closely followed in New Hampshire, where Shaheen and other officials have called for imposing sanctions on Lebanon to pressure Beirut to release him. Fakhoury was jailed last year after returning to Lebanon on vacation to visit family. Lebanon’s intelligence services said he confessed during questioning to being a warden at Khiam Prison, which was run by the SLA during Israel’s 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon. Human rights groups have described the prison as a center for torture.
Fakhoury’s family and lawyer, however, said he had no direct contact with inmates and was never involved in any interrogation or torture. Lebanon and Israel have been officially at war since Israel’s creation in 1948. Lebanon bans its citizens from traveling to Israel or having contact with Israelis. Fakhoury’s lawyer and family say he fled Lebanon in 2001 through Israel and eventually to the United States because of death threats he and many other SLA members received after Israel ended its occupation of Lebanon in 2000. Fakhoury was formally charged in February by a military judge with the murder and torture of inmates at Khiam Prison.

American accused of human rights violations freed in Lebanon
The Associated Press/Washington/Thursday 19 March 2020
A US citizen who had faced decades-old murder and torture charges in Lebanon has been freed, a senator who had pushed for his release announced Thursday.
New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen said in a statement that she had spoken with Amer Fakhoury on the phone soon after his release.
Lebanese officials alleged that Fakhoury, 57, of Dover, New Hampshire, who had been jailed since September, was responsible for the killings and abuse of prisoners in Lebanon as part of an Israeli-backed militia two decades ago.
His case had put a significant strain on already troubled ties between the US and Lebanon. Lawmakers in Washington had threatened to withhold critical aid to the country and impose sanctions on the Lebanese military, which is seen by the Trump administration as a bulwark against the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement. “Anytime a US citizen is wrongfully detained by a foreign government, we must use every tool at our disposal to free them,” Shaheen said in her statement. “I’m very glad that Amer is finally coming home and will be reunited with his family. No family should have to go through what the Fakhoury family has gone through. Hours before Shaheen announced Fakhoury’s release a US Marine Osprey was seen landing at the US Embassy in Beirut. Fakhoury was ordered released on Monday because more than 10 years had passed since he allegedly tortured prisoners at a jail run by the South Lebanon Army militia. But he was not immediately allowed to leave the country after a Lebanese military judge on Tuesday appealed the decision, asking the Military Court of Appeals to strike down the decision to free Fakhoury. A judge of urgent matters in the southern town of Nabatiyeh issued a ruling preventing Fakhoury from leaving Lebanon for two months. Judge Ahmad Mezher’s decision came after a request filed by former inmates. Fakhoury is a former SLA member who became a US citizen last year. His case has been closely followed in New Hampshire, where Shaheen and other officials have called for imposing sanctions on Lebanon to pressure Beirut to release him. Fakhoury was jailed last year after returning to Lebanon on vacation to visit family. Lebanon’s intelligence service said he confessed during questioning to being a warden at Khiam Prison, which was run by the SLA during Israel’s 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon. Human rights groups have described the prison as a center for torture. Fakhoury’s family and lawyer, however, said he had no direct contact with inmates and was never involved in any interrogation or torture.Lebanon and Israel have been officially at war since Israel’s creation in 1948. Lebanon bans its citizens  from traveling to Israel or having contact with Israelis. Fakhoury’s lawyer and family say he fled Lebanon in 2001 through Israel and eventually to the United States because of death threats he and many other SLA members received after Israel ended its occupation of Lebanon in 2000. Fakhoury was formally charged in February by a military judge with the murder and torture of inmates at Khiam Prison.

Cabinet decides to distribute social assistance to citizens whose work was disrupted
NNA/March 19/2020
The Cabine convened, today at the Presidential Palace, in session chaired by President Michel Aoun and attended by Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, and Ministers. The Council of Ministers stressed the importance of continuing strictness in adopting health measures to confront Corona, and Ministers put 100 Million Lebanese Pounds into the special Central Bank account to fight the epidemic.
The Cabinet also decided to complete the research on in the draft law aimed at organizing and setting temporary exceptional controls on some operations and banking services in a session to be held next Tuesday, provided that the draft is presented to Ministers in next Thursday’s session.
The Council of Ministers asked the Energy Ministry to initiate discussions with the major manufacturers working for the electricity production units to study the possibility of securing the necessary financing, setting up production plants for electricity and securing temporary solutions through direct negotiations and agreements concluded between state and state, and sponsored by the text of Article 52 of the Constitution.
The session was preceded by a meeting between the President and Prime Minister, in which the topics on the agenda were discussed.
Statement of the Information Minister: “The Council of Ministers convened its weekly session, chaired by His Excellency, the President of the Republic, and attended by the Prime Minister and Ministers.
At the beginning of the session, Prime Minister Diab stressed the Cabinet’s adherence to the continuation of the substantive debate adopted, and pointed out that the Government takes responsibility in the most difficult stage in Lebanese history, and faces exceptional crises, which requires the highest levels of mobilization and effort to secure resilience elements.
Then, Prime Minister Diab clarified that speed, and not haste, is required in the draft law regulating the establishment of exceptional controls on some of the proposed banking operations and services, indicating that it is impossible to develop a project that satisfies everyone, and there will be losses, but we must do our best to mitigate losses and addressed drilling operations in Block 4 for gas exploration, noting the rapid progress, and hoped for positive results. Afterwards, the Prime Minister spoke about the file of establishment of electricity plants, and considered that it is the cornerstone for addressing the Lebanese electricity crisis, and to launch the basic workshop to secure electricity 24 hours a day, and to stop the bleeding in the state treasury from this sector. Then, PM Diab addressed the followed procedures to counter Corona, and pointed to the opening of an account in the Central Bank, dedicated to contributions in this issue, in addition to assistance that can be obtained. Finally, the Prime Minister spoke about the necessity of opening a donation account related to social assistance to citizens whose work was disrupted, and in this context he announced the preparation for distribution of food aid in various regions through the High Relief Commission, or municipalities, or local donors.
PM Diab concluded that it is a difficult stage which requires national and humanitarian stances, so that we can overcome this difficult ordeal”.
Then, the Health Minister presented the development of the fight against Corona in Lebanon and the measures taken by his ministry in cooperation with public and private hospitals.
Cabinet Decisions:
-Completing the research on the draft law aimed at organizing and setting exceptional temporary controls for some operations and banking services at the Cabinet’s meeting next Tuesday, provided that it is presented to the Council next Thursday’s session.
-Energy Minister reviewed the progress of the first exploration well, in Block 4, and it was found that drilling operations reached 1991 meters after exceeding 1516 meters, provided that drilling will take place in a layer of salt whose thickness is 1750 meters to reach where it is supposed to be in the layer in which it is believed that gas is present.
-The Energy Minister presented the issue of fluctuating fuel prices, and it was decided to form a committee comprising the Prime Minister and the Ministers of Energy and Finance in coordination with the Central Bank, the Electricity Authority of Lebanon and the General Directorate of Oil and authorizing them to purchase future contracts through the Central Bank in US dollars.
-Requesting the Energy Ministry to initiate discussions with senior manufacturers working for the electricity production units to study the possibility of securing the necessary financing, establishing production plants for electricity, and securing temporary solutions through direct negotiations and agreements concluded between state and state.
-Opening an account in the Central Bank to receive donations and cash assistance, and its use will be devoted to Corona issue.
-Opening an account at the Rafic Hariri Governmental Hospital to receive donations and gifts for the hospital, and mandating the High Relief Commission to accept donations in kind.
-Requesting the Central Bank to open an account to receive donations, and use it for social assistance.
-Ministers provided 100 million Lebanese Pounds of their own compensation in favor of fighting Corona.
-It was decided to distribute social assistance to citizens whose businesses were disrupted and lost their livelihood, and food aid will be distributed in various regions, whether through the High Relief Commission or across municipalities or with the help of local donors.
-The Education Minister stated that, within the framework of rationalizing tunnels, rented school buildings were evacuated to avoid need for them, providing more than $ 150,000, and other buildings will be evacuated, which will soon achieve greater financial savings”.
Questions & Answers:
Question: Which two regions did the Minister of Health request to isolate for recording high rates of corona infection?
Answer: “From the beginning, injuries were confined to some areas, including Jbeil, the southern suburbs of Beirut, and others, but today it is not possible to speak on this matter after we are in the scope of the outbreak, and there is great fear due to the 14 cases recorded yesterday, but the greatest fear is the type of cases that are unknown. Therefore, we are keen to be strict and non-complacent about the issue of home commitment and the necessary preventive measures”.
Question: After we are close to the end of the two-week period, is there an intention to extend the health measures taken?
Answer: “This matter is decided in the light of the developments and prevention that we adopt, as the measures were good and the response of the citizens also helped us in controlling the numbers, but in the light of the developments, measures will be taken, and citizens should help in the matter of caution and prevention”.
Question: In what concerns Electricity production. Are the factories part of the electricity plan? Why not be presented to the tender department after the Government raised the slogan of transparency?
Answer: “We have not yet reached this stage of contradictions and others, and it was decided to discuss with companies that have the intention and are preparing for cooperation, and we are still in the survey stage”.
Question: How will the decision to grant aid be implemented to those who need it?
Answer: “We have passed in much more difficult circumstances, and we, as Lebanese, are used to facing crises, and what we are living in today is a global crisis that has affected everyone, and we must all have sufficient awareness to face it. We hope that this stage will pass”.
Question: What are the notes on Capital Control, and why did PM Diab talk about losses?
Answer: “We are still within discussions, and it cannot be said that every idea raised is final. He asked the ministers to prepare written proposals and send them to the Finance Minister, to be discussed on Tuesday, and in the hope that we will come up with a final draft law next Thursday”.Presidency Press Office

Kubis relays to Hitti Guterres’ message of solidarity with Lebanon
NNA/March 19/2020
The United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Jan Kubis, conveyed to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Nassif Hitti, a message of solidarity with Lebanon expressed by United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, during a televised group call with the representatives of UNIFIL and ESCWA and the Special Coordinator, whereby they underscored “UN support for Lebanon’s government and people amid these difficult times overshadowing the region and the world.”

‘Strong Lebanon’ holds online meeting amid coronavirus outbreak

NNA/March 19/2020
The “Strong Lebanon” parliamentary bloc on Thursday held its first online meeting to follow up on the healthcare and social situation in the country amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Conferees discussed the means to develop and activate the Free Patriotic Movement’s campaign in prevention against the spread of coronavirus, highlighted the necessity of social solidarity. Touching on the economic and financial situation, the bloc maintained that any measure must serve the rights of depositors.

‘Loyalty to Resistance’ backs government’s anti-coronavirus measures, condemns Fakhoury’s release
NNA/March 19/2020
The “Loyalty to the Resistance” parliamentary bloc on Thursday voiced support for all measures undertaken by the Lebanese government in prevention against the spread of the novel coronavirus, highlighting the importance of cooperation in the service of the nation’s best interest.
“The time now is for positive cooperation and not for getting carried away with contemptible outbids,” the bloc said in a statement following its weekly meeting at its Haret Hreik-based office. On a different note, the bloc condemned the military court’s fresh decision to release Amer Fakhoury, former head of the Israeli enemy-linked prison of Khiam, where thousands of Lebanese had been tortured under his watch. “It is a shame that judges (…) respond to the pressures of a foreign state that sponsors the enemy and backs its terror,” the bloc considered.
Accordingly, conferees said the competent authorities must hold accountable those who ruled Fakhoury’s release.

Lebanese Govt. to Distribute Aid to Citizens Out of Work Due to Virus Lockdown
Naharnet/March 19/2020
The Lebanese government will distribute aid to citizens who have become out of work due to the lockdown over the coronavirus crisis, Information Minister Manal Abdul Samad announced on Thursday after a Cabinet session. “PM (Hassan) Diab spoke of the need to open a bank account for social aid donations aimed at helping citizens who have become out of work, and in this regard he announced that there are preparations to distribute food aid in the various regions, through the High Relief Council, municipalities or local donators,” Abdul Samad said. “He said an account will be opened at the central bank for donations related to the confrontation (against coronavirus), in addition to the material aid that can be obtained,” the minister added. As for the capital control law, the conferees will continue their discussions on Tuesday and a final decision might be taken next Thursday. “PM Diab said speed, not hastiness, is required in approving the law, noting that there can’t be a law that satisfied everyone and that there will be parties affected by it as well as losses,” Abdul Samad added, pointing out that Diab called for “exerting efforts to limit the losses.”Lebanon has so far confirmed 149 COVID-19 coronavirus cases among them four deaths. On Sunday, the government declared a two-week state of “general mobilization,” closing the country’s air, land and sea ports of entry and ordering the closure of all non-essential public and private institutions. Citizens and residents were meanwhile asked to stay home unless it is extremely necessary to go out.

UN Conveys Support for Lebanon
Naharnet/March 19/2020
UN chief Antonio Guterres conveyed solidarity with Lebanon during the “difficult” circumstances the world and the Midetteranean country are going through, the National News Agency reported on Thursday. UN Special coordinator Jan Kubis relayed Guterres’ message to Foreign Minister Nasif Hitti, said NNA. The UN chief expressed the agency’s solidarity with Lebanon during a televised group communication with the representatives of UNIFIL, ESCWA and the UN Special Coordinator. The UN emphasizes “support and full commitment for Lebanon, its government and people in this difficult time Lebanon and the world are witnessing,” he said.

Hasan Asks for Isolating Jbeil, Keserwan, Warns over Virus Cases Surge
Naharnet/March 19/2020
Health Minister Hamad Hasan on Thursday asked Cabinet to isolate the Jbeil and Keserwan regions over a rise in coronavirus cases there and said his request may later include Baabda and Northern Metn should the need arise, TV networks said. Hasan himself confirmed to reporters that he called for isolating “two regions” but noted that the government did not agree to his request. “That’s why the Interior Ministry will take stricter measures there,” he added. “I’m wearing a mask because the danger level has increased,” Hasan said, lamenting that “the level of optimism has dropped.”
“There are six cases of an unknown origin and the reason is community infections,” the minister warned. “I have asked security forces to be stricter, to the extent of barring people from leaving their homes,” he said. Lebanon has so far confirmed 149 COVID-19 coronavirus cases among them four deaths. On Sunday, the government declared a two-week state of “general mobilization,” closing the country’s air, land and sea ports of entry and ordering the closure of all non-essential public and private institutions. Citizens and residents were meanwhile asked to stay home unless it is extremely necessary to go out.

Hout Says MEA Will Recover after Coronavirus Lockdown
Naharnet/March 19/2020
Chairman of Lebanon’s national carrier Mohammed Hout said on Thursday that MEA airlines is capable of overcoming the crisis after Lebanon’s airport was ordered closed for two weeks over coronavirus fears. “We will fly high again, despite all the challenges MEA is going to receive new planes,” to beef up its fleet, said Hout in remarks he made coinciding with the landing of the last MEA plane late on Wednesday. Lebanon on Wednesday closed its main airport and urged people to stay home for two weeks to stem a novel coronavirus outbreak that has killed four people in the country. The COVID-19 virus has officially infected 133 people in the Mediterranean nation. Pictures of an empty Rafik Hariri International Airport circulated on social media, a first since the July 2006 war in which Beirut airport witnessed paralysis. “It is not the first time that the company has experienced difficulties,” said the chairman, noting that MEA planes have stopped for long days earlier but recovered and flew again. “We have the capabilities,” he said.

Abide by the Decisions of Specialists to Fight Coronavirus, Hariri Says
Naharnet/March 19/2020
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that WHO Director General has described coronavirus as an “enemy against humanity,” which makes it crucial that we all join efforts to stop its spread. “It is sufficient that the World Health Organization Director General (Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus) describes the coronavirus as “an enemy against humanity” so that all efforts and capabilities are combined to stop its spread and adhere to the health conditions of the confrontation, first of which is domestic quarantine,” said Hariri in a tweet late on Wednesday. He added: “People in politics, power, security, parties, media, economics, education and all other sectors are soldiers in the battle. Leadership is for those with knowledge and specialization, doctors, scientists, researchers, nurses, they command and decide, and the others have to abide.”

‘Better than Switzerland’: Why Lebanon’s drastic coronavirus response is succeeding in flattening the epidemic curve
The New Arab/March 19/2020
Lebanon has taken drastic measures to battle to coronavirus outbreak
Lebanon’s novel coronavirus outbreak is the latest crisis to hit a country reeling from a severe economic crunch and mass anti-government protests, but the small country’s response, so far, appears to be working. While the number of coronavirus cases remains relatively low, the government since early March has taken drastic lockdown measures, ordering schools, universities, bars and restaurants closed, and imposing virtual curfews at public spaces in recent days. The country’s only international airport shut down on Wednesday, while borders are effectively shuttered for most travellers. This follows weeks of restricted air traffic to areas hit by large-scale virus outbreaks, including the UK. According to data from the American University of Beirut, these measures are working in flattening the epidemic’s curve. “Lebanon has done much better than other countries in containing #COVID19 till now,” the Global Health initiative at the American University of Beirut tweeted on Tuesday. An accompanying graph shows Lebanon’s situation in comparison to several other states, including wealthier European nations such as Switzerland. “Still, social & health systems vigilance is much needed in this critical phase of the disease progression. Track the trend of new cases after index identification,” the tweet added.Data from the American University of Beirut [AUB]. At the time of writing, 120 people in the Mediterranean nation have been infected with COVID-19, while three have succumbed to the virus. Medical efforts to assist patients, however, have come under threat as the healthcare sector grappled with the fallout from decades of corruption, while the Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) – which acts the country’s national ambulance service – is fast running out of funds. The not-for-profit LRC has supplemented Lebanon’s government health system, with ambulance services and regular updates on the country’s coronavirus situation. The group has reported that each coronavirus callout costs them as much as $850. With resources now running low, the LRC has appealed for donations from the public to continue its work. To date, the non-profit has readied 300 trained emergency medical technicians and 520 volunteers trained in COVID-19 awareness.
*With input from news agencies

Lebanon should not be used as a pawn any longer
Khaled Abou Zahr/Arab News/March 19/ 2020
Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah has changed his stance on a possible International Monetary Fund (IMF) aid package for Lebanon, stating last week that: “Any assistance within logical conditions is possible. There is no problem with this.” This came after Iran — Hezbollah’s master — requested aid from the IMF in the form of a $5 billion emergency loan to fight the tragic situation caused by the spread of the COVID-19 virus. It also followed an indication from the entire political and business community in Lebanon that there is an emergency need for direct funds to avoid total bankruptcy.
It was an uneasy situation for the so-called party of resistance to vehemently oppose any IMF aid, only to hear its bosses in Tehran asking for the same. Last week got even worse, as Hezbollah was also reportedly accused of allowing a military tribunal in Beirut to release Amer Fakhoury, an American citizen accused of running a southern Lebanese prison during Israel’s occupation of the region. This apparent concession by Nasrallah is said to have been made to ward off the threat of US sanctions against some of his political allies, and to show good faith ahead of any potential IMF negotiations.
This once again shows that Hezbollah is willing to shift its positions in order to preserve its interests and those of its masters in Tehran. Lebanese public opinion or state laws do not matter — they didn’t matter when they sent their fighters to Syria and they don’t matter now. Yet, today, Hezbollah’s global image, which is also part of Iran’s strategy, has been shattered and it is under pressure like never before.
When it comes to the IMF, as well as pleasing the US, Hezbollah is also counting on France to support it in the negotiations. The simple reason for this is that, since the previous government headed by Saad Hariri, President Emmanuel Macron has been trying to bridge the differences between the US and Iran concerning the nuclear deal, and Lebanon is an important part of his strategy. France has a good understanding of what Hezbollah represents for Iran and, by supporting stability in Lebanon, the French administration knows very well it is appeasing Iran and showing goodwill.
Hezbollah’s global image, which is also part of Iran’s strategy, has been shattered and it is under pressure like never before
Nasrallah wants the IMF money without “conditions that breach Lebanese sovereignty.” But, for Hezbollah, sovereignty has a different meaning — it means being allowed to retain control of all contraband; keeping control of Lebanon’s borders; keeping control of the airport and ports; continuing its oversight on illegal activities; continuing the bribing mechanisms; continuing to threaten the judiciary; controlling the country’s pharmaceuticals and health care; being allowed to trespass on private and state property; being unaccountable for its actions and those of its allies; keeping parallel communications; and using the electricity network for its own interests. And, most of all, it means keeping its military arsenal and its status of being a state above the state.
This military arsenal is not one of resistance but one of oppression — an oppression first of its own and then of the entire country. The Shiite Lebanese who dream the same dreams as all others have been isolated from the rest of the population. And, after isolating its own community, Hezbollah has isolated Lebanon from the rest of the world. The country of commerce, trade and tourism has become the enemy of all countries in the region and blacklisted by a big part of the world. Is this the stability France wants to preserve? If Macron is indeed a friend of Lebanon, then he should stand with the free people of Lebanon and the protesters, not Hezbollah. It is also time for Hariri, who has good relations with Macron, to publicly clarify this and ask the French president to stand with the protesters and the opposition.
However, the real question we should ask is until when will the Lebanese Army accept this situation? When will the army listen to the people in the streets who risk their lives and scream from their heart, “One country, one army,” and the call for true sovereignty? Until when will the army continue accepting successive humiliations and Hezbollah’s corruption of the true meaning of sovereignty? The army is the sole protector of the borders. It is the unique sovereign institution all citizens respect. It is high time for the army to move with the people, no matter the cost.
We cannot let the country be a pawn in the middle of regional negotiations any longer. We know we will all be sacrificed sooner or later. It is time to provoke change. But Lebanon needs to act fast — it will not be able to overcome the financial crisis as well as the COVID-19 pandemic without outside financial and political support. We are on the verge of a disastrous situation. We need to act fast.
• Khaled Abou Zahr is CEO of Eurabia, a media and tech company. He is also the editor of Al-Watan Al-Arabi.

‘Impunity is a pattern’: The lawyers taking on torture in Lebanon’s prisons

Alicia Medina/The New Arab/March 19/2020
A myriad of smartphones have captured how security forces have beaten protesters on the Lebanese streets since 17 October. But what followed after they were detained is less known. The Committee of Lawyers to Defend Protesters filed complaints last December on behalf of 17 protesters for the crime of torture against members of the security and military apparatus.
“Many of the assaults were aimed to extract information and punish the protesters,” said lawyer Ghida Frangieh, a member of the committee and The Legal Agenda, a Beirut-based NGO. Contravening the law, the Military Prosecutor referred these complaints to the security and military agencies that are being accused of torture and then closed the investigations.
“Until today, we’ve not seen any transparent investigation or any member of the security police being held accountable,” Frangieh told The New Arab.
In Lebanon this impunity is a pattern.
On paper, Lebanon has beefed up its legal arsenal against torture. In 2008 it became the first Middle Eastern nation to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (CAT) and in 2017 passed the Anti-Torture Law (Law 65/2017).
But the moves of lawmakers seem de-synchronised with the reality of detention cells and courtrooms.
Last October, in a conference room of a luxurious hotel in Beirut, a nervous man with a pile of papers listened to experts discussing the results of the Anti-Torture Law. The representative of the Ministry of Justice, judge Angela Dagher, took to the stage to remark on Lebanon’s fight against torture. Then the nervous man took the microphone. “My name is Toufic al-Dika, father of Hassan al-Dika”. The room fell deadly silent. Toufic saw his son enter prison accused of drug-related charges in November 2018. Seven months later he was handed his dead body. The pile of documents in front of him attests to the fight of Toufic, who acted as his son’s lawyer, to seek accountability: copies of complaints, medical reports and 16 letters sent by Hassan describing the beatings and electric shocks he was subjected to.
Stress positions, beatings, electric shocks and food deprivation are common practice in detention centres
Toufic read out loud the letter sent by Hassan the day he died: “I have fell down many times, I am not even able to stand”.
“The judiciary and the intelligence branch are responsible of the death of my son,” said Toufic. Dagher acknowledged “some problems in the judiciary” but added that “we can not put all the evils of our country in the judicial alone”.
Sitting next to Toufic, Ghassan Mukheiber, an ex-lawmaker who contributed to the draft of Law 65, addressed Dagher: “Is there a single veridic by Lebanese judges to criminalise torture?”
After a moment of silence, Mukheiber answered. None.
The architecture of impunity
Stress positions, beatings, electric shocks or food deprivation are common practice in detention centres according to a report by the Lebanese Centre for Human Rights (CLDH).
In CLDH’s visits to prisons in 2019, 42 out of the 92 inmates interviewed stated they had been physically tortured. Out of 26 complaints to the judiciary only two judges took action.
Torture is “considered as a valid method of investigation and punishment” and is “accepted by the Lebanese Justice system”, CLDH concluded.
Detainees accused of terrorism, drugs or theft; Syrians and Palestinian refugees, migrant workers, lower-income detainees, sex workers or LGBT individuals are the most vulnerable groups to be tortured by the Army Intelligence, General Security and the Internal Security Forces, say multiple NGOs.
The portfolio of two lawyers offers a glimpse of the spread of torture. Mohamad Sablouh, representative of the Lawyers Syndicate of Tripoli, has documented 35 cases of torture but no accountability has been achieved. “The problem is that the judges are not cooperating in order to implement the UNCAT,” he denounced.
Lawyer Diala Shehade has worked in 202 cases where detainees told the judge they had been tortured. She represented the families of three Syrians that died under army custody in 2017.
The forensic examination documented evidence of violence in their bodies but “the conclusion was worded in a very tricky way because the doctors were under threat,” Shehade explained. No one has been held accountable yet. “We need at least one case to become a precedent, to be a lesson,” urged Shehade. One of Shehade’s clients claims he was tortured first by Hezbollah and then by the Lebanese security forces. He is a Syrian national that in 2014 fled to Lebanon after the militia he led in Syria was defeated by Assad’s forces.
Syrian and Palestinian refugees, migrant workers, lower-income detainees, sex workers or LGBT individuals are the most vulnerable groups to be tortured.
This man, who will be identified as Ahmed, says he was kidnapped by Hezbollah and spent over a year in an underground unknown location suffering daily beatings the first four months. During this time his wife and children did not know his whereabouts.
After Hezbollah released him, Ahmed was detained by the Army Intelligence and accused by General Security of dealing with a member of the Al-Nusra Front (a group affiliated with Al-Qaeda). Ahmed denied the charges saying his militia whose name he declined to give – fought Al-Nusra in Syria.
He spent 21 days in an isolation cell while being interrogated. He says he was severely beaten and electrocuted every day.
To push him to sign a confession, Ahmed’s wife was detained for nine days. His wife says she was beaten once because the interrogator “was pissed off” with her.
Ahmed signed a confession, without being allowed to read it and served a nine-month sentence on terrorism charges.
During that investigative phase he could not communicate with his lawyer. Shehade pointed out that military tribunals forbid lawyers to meet with their clients during that period, which is against the Lebanese procedural code.
Ahmed says the judge ignored him when he tried to show him evidence of torture on his hands and legs. Legislation states that if there is an allegation of torture an investigation should follow in 48 hours, including a medical examination. But that’s rarely the case.
Judges normally assign prison doctors to check on the detainees. “A doctor who gets his salary from the same security authorities that has tortured my client,” said lawyer Sablouh. One of his clients was subjected to electric shocks on his genitals and the judge assigned a juris doctor, but six months after the incident.
The key to stopping torture would be for the judges to accept a confession only if it was signed with a lawyer present in the interrogation, said lawyers Shehade and Sablouh. “If the judicial authorities support us in combating torture, the security authorities will not dare to continue the torture practices,” said Sablouh.
In-depth: As Lebanon grapples with economic collapse and a coronavirus outbreak, refugees appeal for international help
Ex-lawmaker Mukheiber argued that the main problem are the violations of the penal procedural code: period of arrest, access to a lawyer, interpreter, doctor or the right to make a phone call.
Law 65 also has shortcomings. Amnesty International’s researcher Sahar Mandour criticised the statute of limitations of 3 to 10 years after the release of the victim. In her view crimes of torture should not apply. The preamble of Law 65 establishes that regular judicial courts, not military ones, will hear torture cases, but due to a loophole in the law, torture cases keep being referred to military courts.
Sablouh urged the international community to “put pressure on Lebanon” to abide by the Convention Against Torture, which in Lebanon exists “only in writing”.
*Alicia Medina is a freelance journalist based in Lebanon.

As Lebanon suffers equipment shortages, these hero women are making coronavirus protective gear from scratch
The New Arab/March 19/2020
A group of women in Lebanon are working hard to make sterile disposable coveralls for medical teams, nurses and rescuers in a bid to help in the coronavirus effort. In the city of Saida, some twenty women, decked out in disposable masks and with hands protected by gloves, are using sewing machines to make the disposable medical equipment. The women are part of a social enterprise charity that makes clothing in Lebanon called Machghal el-Oum, located in in the southern Governate of Saida. Instead of making clothes, the women have switched to making coveralls that could be worn by medical professionals.
They have been working tirelessly since 22 February, when the first case of coronavirus appeared in Lebanon. Currently, there are 149 cases in Lebanon and there have been four coronavirus-related deaths. The disposable suits are insulating, water-repelling and anti-virus, and with concerns that medical supplies, including masks, are dwindling, such measures are particularly welcome, the L’Orient Le Jour reports.
The charity, in partnership with engineer Ahmad Ayoub, came up with the idea in response to the health crisis and the rising prices of disinfectant products. These protective suits, he says, will be the perfect way for people to save money and stay protected. The fabric is treated with several protective products including titanium, making them water-resistant and anti-viral, before they are given to a seamstress to sew. The workshop has strict hygiene rules to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and temperatures of the workers are checked daily to ensure they do not have a fever – one of the indications of coronavirus.
Usually, 40 women work there daily but due to the coronavirus risk, the number has decreased. “Because of the risks from coronavirus and the instructions from the Ministry of Health, their number has dropped to 25,” said Wafa Wehbe, the director of the social enterprise.
The workshop produces between 150 to 200 suits per day and charges just $7 – just enough to cover the maintenance costs of the workshop.
The women have made over 1,000 overalls so far. The price of such suits on the market is much higher, Ayoub says.
“This is not a commercial project, but a service that we are rendering to Lebanon as part of the war it is waging against this virus,” said Wafa Wehbé. Wehbé said the suits have already been given to NGO’s, including the Lebanese Red Cross and Civil Defence.
Orders have been placed by hospitals in Saida, which wish to distribute them to their medical and nursing staff, as well as to their staff, should the epidemic worsen. “We are trying to help as much as possible during this difficult time,” she added.

فيروسات لبنان المتمثلة بالإرهاب الإيراني وبحكامه الملالي هي أخطر بكثير من فيروس الكورونا
The viruses of Lebanon/More debilitating than COVID-19 are the terrorists beholden to Iran’s rulers
Clifford D. May/FDD Founder & President/March 19/2020
الياس بجاني/لبنان مبتلي بفيروسات وسرطانيات أخطر بكثير من فيروس الكورونا. وطن الأرز مبتلي ومنذ سنوات باحتلال إيراني فاجر ومجرم وإرهابي..هذا الإحتلال هو حزب الله الإيراني الذي يحتل ويحكم لبنان وهو حوله إلى معسكر وقاعدة إيرانية وبؤرة ارهاب وإرهابيين ومخزن اسلحة. وبسبب هذا الوباء الإحتلالي المذهبي والإرهابي الملالوي. فقد تم تدمير كل شيء في لبنان.. حجر وبشر على حد سواء الخراب المتعمد طاول كل ما هو دولة وخدمات وصحة وبيئة وعلاقات خارجية وقانون وحدود وقضاء وأخيراً وقع البلد في حالة من الإفلاس المالي. الكاتب كليفورد ماي يسلط في مقالته الذي في أسفل على وضعية لبنان الكارثية هذه في ظل وتحت حكم وسيطرة حزب الله الإرهابي والإيراني.

COVID-19, the virus from Communist China, has not yet hit Lebanon harder than other nations but no one will be surprised if it does. A small country sandwiched between shattered Syria and dynamic Israel, Lebanon is in failing economic health. Among the symptoms: rising debt, spiraling inflation, soaring unemployment, falling foreign currency reserves, and an eroding Lebanese pound.
Electricity and water do not flow reliably. The country’s hospitals are short on funds for salaries and medical supplies.
This month, for the first time, Lebanon failed to repay a $1.2 billion Eurobond. “How can we pay the creditors while there are people in the streets without the money to buy a loaf of bread?” asked Prime Minister Hassan Diab. About 40 percent of Lebanese are now poor. That could soon rise to 50 percent, according to the World Bank.
Lebanon might not be in such terrible shape today were it not infected by Hezbollah, the disease-causing agent of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In the early 1980s, Iran’s rulers created Hezbollah, providing funding and 1,500 Revolutionary Guards to train fighters for the “Party of God.” Hezbollah’s power has been growing ever since. It’s appetite for blood-letting has remained constant. I’ll mention just a few instances.
In 1983, on orders from Tehran, Hezbollah bombed the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 258 Americans.
In the 1990s, Hezbollah, again instructed by Tehran, bombed Jewish targets in Argentina. Hezbollah operatives have boasted about it.
In 2005, Hezbollah used 2,200 tons of TNT to assassinate former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri along with 21 others traveling in his motorcade in Beirut. A U.N. Special Tribunal confirmed that conclusion.
In 2006, Hezbollah dragged Lebanon into a 34-day war with Israel. More than a thousand Lebanese were killed, as were 165 Israelis. The U.N. Security Council resolution that halted the conflict called for Hezbollah’s disarmament. Needless to say, that was not even attempted.
In 2008, Hezbollah forced the Lebanese government to sign a “power-sharing” agreement that has effectively given it a veto over all decisions. Since then, fewer and fewer decisions of significance are made independent of Hezbollah.
It’s true that the river of funds from Tehran to Beirut has slowed since the Trump administration began its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran’s theocrats. But Hezbollah remains flush nevertheless. The reason: Its extensive partnerships with South American drug cartels and other international criminal organizations.
These lucrative relationships have been extensively researched and documented by Emanuele Ottolenghi, my colleague at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). A law enforcement effort to break up the narco-terrorist alliances, Operation Cassandra, was dismantled by President Obama to facilitate the nuclear weapons deal he cut with Iran’s rulers.
What could make Lebanon much sicker? Another war with Israel would do the trick.
Hezbollah now has up to 150,000 missile aimed at Israel. It’s worth noting that many of these missiles have been emplaced in schools, hospitals, mosques and homes to make sure that Israelis, to defend themselves, will have to kill a large number of Lebanese civilians. That will provide Hezbollah with talking points for media outlets and transnational organizations eager to scapegoat Israelis while ignoring the fact that using “human shields” clearly violates international law.
Israel has so far tolerated this missile buildup, confident that its Iron Dome defense system is capable of preventing most rockets from reaching population centers.
However, Hezbollah lately has been replacing dumb missiles that are relatively easy to intercept with Precision Guided Munitions (PGMs) whose trajectories can be altered in flight, making them both more evasive and more accurate. In sufficient numbers they also could overwhelm Iron Dome.
Should Hezbollah’s Iranian-supplied PGMs inflict mass casualties, a full-blown war between Israel and Lebanon would be inevitable.
PGMs are built in factories in Lebanon and Syria which the Israelis bombs when they can. But dumb missiles also are being converted into smart missiles by Iranian-trained technicians equipped with Iranian-supplied kits that cost only about $15,000 per projectile. Hezbollah is estimated to have between three dozen and 300 PGMs at this point, with a new one being added perhaps every day and a half.
Sooner or later, Israel may decide it needs to go beyond killing crocodiles and begin draining the swamp. Last month, Israel announced that it was setting up a new military command devoted to planning kinetic responses targeting – if you’ll forgive my switching metaphors — not the puppets in Lebanon but those pulling the strings in Tehran.
A treatment to help Lebanon recover is not difficult to prescribe. In association with the International Monetary Fund, the Lebanese government could initiate structural economic reforms and become eligible for billions of dollars in loans and grants. Lebanese banks handling Hezbollah’s illicit finances could be sanctioned and/or shut down. Endemic corruption could be tackled.
The Lebanese Armed Forces could reassert Lebanese sovereignty, remove the missiles threatening Israel, and disarm Hezbollah, insisting it transform into a political party competing with other political parties, rather than a militia that menaces other political parties and is beholden to a foreign regime.
None of this is remotely likely. The Hezbollah virus has debilitated Lebanon beyond the point where it can heal itself. The U.N. and the “international community” are, as usual, doing nothing useful.
We should expect the disease to spread. Actually, it already has. Terrorists, criminals, and their neo-imperialist patrons in Tehran have been bringing death and destruction to Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Gaza – whomever and whatever they touch. There are means by which these vectors could be eliminated. Easy and painless they are not.
*Clifford D. May is founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a columnist for the Washington Times.

Lebanese NGOs supporting the elderly forced to adapt to coronavirus pandemic
Emily Lewis/ Al Arabiya English/March 19/2020
In Lebanon, where the old-age pensions are extremely limited, many vulnerable elderly people rely on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and humanitarian initiatives for support.
However, with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, many of these NGOs have been forced to adapt to reduce the chance of spreading the disease to the elderly, who are at high risk of experiencing severe or life-threatening symptoms from the virus, technically known as COVID-19.
According to data collected in China, around 15 percent of people over 80 years old and 8 percent of people in their seventies who contracted the virus died. When the novel coronavirus reached Lebanon at the end of February, NGO Beit El Baraka, which aims to alleviate poverty for more than 1,000 vulnerable older people, had to set up the logistics of a home delivery service in just two days. The free supermarket in Beirut’s Karm el-Zeitoun neighborhood has now closed its doors to the public to undergo thorough sanitization and has begun delivering food bags to older people in their homes across the country.
The drivers, who wear gloves, masks and shoes that are changed after each visit, have no contact with the elderly recipients, instead dropping the bags outside their doors.
Each bag is filled with long-life food according to each person’s specific dietary requirements, Maya Chams Ibrahimchah, Beit El Baraka’s founder, told Al Arabiya English. Those with diabetes receive bags without sugar, and those with cardiovascular conditions are given less oil and salt, for example.
“Right at the beginning, many of the people we support were quite worried about the virus,” Chams Ibrahimchah said. “But you can’t imagine how at peace they felt when they knew they would have food on the table.”
NGO Ajialouna provides health insurance and medical care for more than 100 elderly people across the country, who in normal circumstances visit the center every 15 days for check-ups. With the arrival of the coronavirus, this has become impossible.
“Now, we are telling them not to leave the house, this is a critical time,” said Zeina Seif, Ajialouna’s Marketing and Sponsorship Manager.
A team of trained nurses and volunteers, clad in full protective gear, visits each elderly person on a regular basis to conduct medical tests and bring food supplies. Following the government’s announcement of a state of health emergency on Sunday, all residents of Lebanon are required to stay at home unless totally necessary.
“For these older people, being at home all day is not their biggest concern – they’re used to that – but they are really worrying about the situation,” Seif said. “They ask us ‘are we going to make it through this?’”
Kibarouna, a social club for elderly people located in the small town of Bikfaya, have been forced to suspend their daytime activities to limit the spread of the virus.
Henriette Haddad, Kibarouna’s founder, said she was extremely concerned about an increase in loneliness among the older people due to the lack of social interaction.
In the few weeks since the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in Lebanon on Feb. 21, the mental health hotline (1564) run by NGO Embrace has seen more frequent calls from elderly people, Embrace’s co-founder Mia Atoui told Al Arabiya English.
“We know that elderly people in general are at risk of loneliness or isolation if they don’t have a supportive family environment,” she explained.
Concerns over access to medical care and the lack of a social safety net are compounded by damaging reactions to the spread of the coronavirus on social media, Atoui said.
Dismissing the disease as something that “only affects the elderly” has “taken a huge toll on mental health.”
Tony Mezher, 69, lives alone in Beirut. While he said he is worried about the effect of the coronavirus “economically, mentally and health-wise,” he is determined to maintain as great a sense of normalcy as possible.
“I’m taking all the preventative measures, but I still walk for 1.5 hours a day, I just don’t get near anyone on the way.

Picture Enclosed: U.S. Marine Osprey that transferred Amer Fakhoury from the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. to the United States after his release from hail a day ago. Below is Amer Fakhoury’s picture..celebrating his freedom