ROUNDUP OF THE WEEK
Renewed demonstrations: hunger deadlier than corona
- Protesters in Tripoli continued to return to the streets throughout the week, demonstrating against the farrowing economic situation and standing up against oppression. On Thursday, amidst demonstrations in Tripoli, the army fired teargas to disperse protesters while in Aley, protesters marched across the city chanting against the economic situation. A group of protesters staged a demonstration inside the Economy Ministry, also on Thursday, to pressure Economy Minister Raoul Nehme to control traders' manipulation of prices on basic commodities.
Syrian refugees threatened during coronavirus outbreak
- On Wednesday, an armed gang of locals from the town of Ghana in West Bekaa stormed a Syrian refugee settlement and fired at the defenseless refugees, injuring two. This comes amidst growing clampdown and restrictions against Syrian refugees, many of whom live in overcrowded settlements under dire living conditions.
Revolution scores a win as spending on Bisri Dam halts
- On Wednesday, the World Bank halted spending on the controversial Bisri dam project, in the first Step of an ongoing struggle to stop the dam's construction. Following this, the World Bank issued a statement on Thursday saying it was open to the government's suggestions regarding how undisbursed amounts from the Bisri project "could be used more effectively to respond to the emerging needs of the Lebanese people."
Emergency aid distribution begins after delay
- The army began the distribution of aid this week, beginning with households affected by mine explosions. This came after the Social Affairs Ministry delayed aid distribution, citing logistical errors. The aid distributions, which amount to 400,000 LL per household, have been denounced as meager, unsustainable, and highly delayed. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Hassan Diab stated on Thursday that the general mobilization protocol was likely to be extended after April 26, leading to growing livelihood concerns amongst households in Lebanon.
PCR testing to increase
- Health Minister Hamad Hasan reiterated at a conference on Saturday that Lebanon will proceed with mass testing for COVID-19 next week. This follows growing criticism regarding the accuracy of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Lebanon. On April 13, the confirmed number of cases was 637; on April 18, this number stands at 672. Meanwhile, four people tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday.
"98% of depositors will be protected"
- In a speech on Thursday, Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared that the government's rescue economic plan will protect 98% of depositors and Leave them unscathed. This followed after a draft economic plan, which was leaked earlier, elicited mass opposition to the ""haircuts proposed. The leaked economic plan had pledged to protect 90% of depositors with deposits worth $100,000 or less.
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