| 30 May 2024, Thursday |

Aoun, Diab call for extension of general mobilization

Lebanese President Michel Aoun stressed on Friday the need to extend general mobilization measures given the rising numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths.

The Ministry of Public Health announced on Thursday that 3,560 new COVID-19 cases were recorded within the past 24 hours – bringing the total number of infections to 452,281 – in addition to 61 deaths.

At the beginning of the Higher Defense Council meeting, President Aoun called for determining the current situation of infections and deaths as well as vaccines in a bid to fight the third expected wave of the coronavirus.

On another note, Aoun announced the allocation of 50% of the exceptional appropriation to the President of the Republic from the balance of 2021, namely an amount of 50 billion Lebanese pounds, to be disbursed to those affected by the Beirut port explosion.

Aoun called for the distribution of the said amount in accordance with protocols and in coordination with the army leadership and the governor of Beirut.

On August 4th, 2020, a large explosion, caused by improperly stored ammonium nitrate, occurred at the Port of Beirut, killing at least 200 people, injuring more than 6,000 and rendering 300,000 others homeless. Large sections of the port and its infrastructure were destroyed, including most of Beirut’s grain reserves, and billions of dollars in damages were inflicted across the city.

Hassan Diab, the caretaker Prime Minister, also approved the extension of the general mobilization for an additional period of six months, until the end of September.

“The coronavirus is increasingly spreading while a high percentage of citizens are not abiding by the measures,” Diab said at the beginning of the meeting, adding “it seems that we are on the verge of the third wave, not only in Lebanon, but in the world, and it may be more dangerous than the previous ones.”

Diab also commented on the monopoly of subsidized goods in Lebanon, saying “every day we see the Lebanese people struggle to obtain subsidized goods yet the solution lies in a financing card that shall provide families with a direct support.”

He added that the above-mentioned card “would cancel the drip-feeding support that is being offered to the people due to the greed of some traders and the absence of human conscience.”

The scene of quarrels between Lebanese citizens over subsidized foodstuffs has become a routine part of life amid a spiraling U.S. dollar exchange rate and a severe financial meltdown in a country relying heavily on imports.