BEIRUT: Four Middle East Airlines aircraft brought back up to 420 Lebanese nationals from Paris, Madrid, Istanbul and Kinshasa. The latest repatriation is part of Lebanon’s efforts to recover those living or studying in countries affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Four more aircraft are set to recover more expatriates from London, Frankfurt, Doha and Accra on Thursday, while 10,000 Lebanese nationals are expected to be brought back home on similar flights.
Only 7 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the last 24 hours. The tests of all 430 Lebanese nationals that were repatriated on Monday from Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Abidjan and Lagos came back negative.
The Lebanese Security Forces have maintained the curfew throughout the country by setting up checkpoints on roads to make sure drivers are wearing face masks and gloves. They are also stopping people to check their temperature.
Withdrawal of money from ATMs has been organized to maintain social distancing, while shops violating the general mobilization decision were closed. According to the Ministry of Interior, the curfew will be strictly implemented next Friday, Saturday and Sunday to prevent any violations.
A new domestic violence case, involving a family of Syrian refugees, was recorded on Tuesday. A 5-year-old girl, called Maha, was rushed to a hospital in the northern city of Tripoli. Her condition was critical and she shortly passed away. The hospital’s report found that she had been severely beaten. Security Forces arrested her father and stepmother and opened an investigation.
No cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the Palestinian or Syrian refugee camps due to the preventive measures. However, camp organizers are calling for assistance everyday because of the worsening economic situation.
Abu Ahmed, a man in charge of one of the refugee camps in the border town of Arsal, told Arab News: “We are strictly controlling the movement of people in the camp because any infection can be transmitted to the whole camp. The tents are right next to each other and are full of children and elders.”
He added: “There is a shortage of face masks and gloves. Some parents lack the resources to feed their families because they are not registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Some used to work in agriculture in the surrounding area to earn their livelihood. However, people are not allowed to go anywhere now and the economic situation is very bad.”
The cries of the refugees have joined the cries of Lebanese citizens who have lost their jobs. It is no longer unusual to see people begging during the day.
An elderly man and his wife standing in front of a Beirut pharmacy asked me to go in and help them pay for a medical inhaler because they did not have the money for it.
The Association of Lebanese Industrialists, headed by Fady Gemayel, called on the government and the relevant ministers to “coordinate with the association to agree on ways to manage work in the factories that have suspended their operations due to the curfew.”
It also stressed that “maintaining food and consumption security is just as important as maintaining health security. We should be keen to preserve the sustainability of the jobs of factory employees and workers contributing to the provision of basic goods such as medicine, sterilizers, detergents, food and basic consumer goods to the Lebanese people.”