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Lebanon’s long road ahead

Protesters demand change as lawmakers and Cabinet ministers resign

Workers remove debris from the site of last week’s explosion in Beirut on Monday. Associated Press/Photo by Bilal Hussein

Lebanon’s long road ahead

LEBANON: American officials are in Beirut this week, with U.S. military transports delivering relief and medical supplies as part of $15 million pledged toward recovery from last week’s massive port explosion. President Donald Trump called for “a full and transparent investigation” into the blast, as a tense weekend of protests showed many Lebanese demanding government change. Nine of 128 members of Parliament have resigned, as have key members of the Cabinet. Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti in his resignation letter said Lebanon is becoming “a failed state” lacking the will to institute reform.

Cleanup and recovery of bodies continue, as the death toll reached at least 158 with more than 6,000 injured, many in critical condition. Three-year-old Alexandra Najjar became the youngest victim after she died from blast injuries on Friday. Approximately 150 people remain missing. I’m in Beirut this week to cover recovery efforts. Six miles away from the blast site, security camera footage shows what it was like for hotel workers I spoke to, including one who was injured. The World Evangelical Alliance, among others, has launched an appeal in support of church congregations in Beirut, which are predominantly located near the port area. So many residents have offered homes and assistance to the more than 300,000 made homeless in Beirut, a mapping service is tracking them.

TAIWAN: U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar arrived in Taipei on Sunday—the highest-level U.S. official to visit in 40 years. The trip was condemned by China, but Azar signs a health cooperation agreement and meets with top health officials on Monday. Taiwan took early steps to fight the coronavirus and has kept its case numbers low, with 480 infections and seven deaths.

CUBA: Yosvany Arostegui died on Friday in police custody in Camagüey following a 40-day hunger strike. Authorities had jailed the long-time dissident on false charges for activities opposing the Castro government.

NEW ZEALAND marked 100 days without a recorded case of the coronavirus, a rare milestone. The country closed its borders and imposed strict lockdown measures in March. Widespread testing and contract tracing allowed the country of 5 million to begin reopening in May. Borders remain closed except for returning citizens, who are quarantined upon entry.

ANTARCTICA: Scientists will be limited in traveling to the only continent without a single case of COVID-19 during the upcoming season for experiments at the South Pole. Most scientists instead will rely on remote sensing instruments and data collected in previous years.

BELARUS: Police used stun guns and tear gas in Minsk and other cities as thousands turned out across the country to protest the landslide victory of longstanding President Alexander Lukashenko. Head of state since Belarus exited the Soviet Union and created the office in 1994, Lukashenko reportedly won 80 percent of the popular vote. But challenger Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said, “The majority is with us.”

NIGERIA: Christian leaders took to the streets in protest over a string of killings in northwestern Kaduna state. The latest attack took place on Thursday with more than 30 Christians killed in several villages and attributed to militant Fulani herdsman. But Ansaru, an al-Qaeda-linked terror group, in a statement coinciding with the attacks, took responsibility for killing “more than 25 apostates” in Kaduna state.

AFGHANISTAN: Officials said they will release 400 Taliban prisoners deemed “hardcore” in a bid to restart peace talks with Taliban leaders.

JAPAN: For one victim of the first atomic bomb at Hiroshima, dropped 75 years ago last Wednesday, meeting one of the bombers changed her calling from revenge to peacemaking.

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Mindy Belz

Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine’s first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afghanistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run From ISIS With Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C.



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