New disasters add to Lebanese woes

BEIRUT — In response to a call issued by former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to lift the immunity of Lebanese officials and deputies to facilitate the investigation of the 4 August 2020 Beirut port explosion, Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament Nabih Berri said after meeting a delegation from the Future Movement that the parliament is ready to lift the immunity of its members to speed along the investigation and ensure transparence and accountability.

Berri added that the priority of the Parliament was, and will remain, full cooperation with the Lebanese judiciary. He did not, however, give details on when and how the immunity would be lifted.

Almost a full year on from the port disaster, no senior official has been questioned, angering many Lebanese who are already suffering from the repercussions of a massive economic collapse in the country.

Making the national situation worse, a huge fire broke out in the forests of the Akkar Governorate burning 11 kilometers of land and orchards.

Civil defense teams, the army, volunteers, environmental activists, and residents are still working to put out the fire that has reached residential buildings. Ambulance and emergency teams of the Lebanese Red Cross attended with 13 ambulances, according to the national news agency.

The agency said a volunteer died while helping to put out the fire.

The coronavirus, too, seems determined to add to the country’s hardship. Director of Rafik Hariri Hospital, Dr. Firas Abyad, said that coronavirus infections are increasing at a high pace and doubling weekly. He added that hospitals that have closed their corona sections have reopened.

Dr. Abyad said hospitals are less prepared than before, suffering from shortages of water, fuel, medicines, and supplies. Medical staff and health workers have left the country, warning that the smallest wave of coronavirus will paralyze the already exhausted health system.