Humankind is no stranger to the destabilizing events of 2020. The state of the global economy and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the headlines. In this ever escalating global crisis, Lebanon, has been facing what can only be described as unimaginable hardships. For the past year the country has seen challenges which have resulted in an utter state of hopelessness and rapid deterioration in mental health of many of its citizens.
Lebanon must “shield and preserve” the skills, knowledge, and experience of its people in order to move forward with its development, according to Christophe Abi-Nassif, the Lebanon programme director for the Middle East Institute (MEI).
Ten years ago on this day, January 25, one of the biggest revolutions in the world took place in Egypt’s Tahrir Square, as protestors poured into the streets chanting slogans of “Bread, Freedom and Social Justice”, demanding one of the region's longest-serving and autocratic President Hosni Mubarak to step down. Three weeks later, on February 11th, Mubarak stepped down as president, leaving the Egyptian military in control of the country.
Looking back upon 2020, we all bear the scars of a devastating year; none so much as girls and boys around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted education for over 1.6 billion children and youth globally and continues to do so. It has also deepened socio-economic inequities and heightened insecurities around the world, further impacting the lives of girls and boys everywhere. Ongoing, protracted conflicts, forced displacement and the worsening climate crisis were no less forgiving.
Two events generated significant interest and global solidarity in the final days of December 2020. A court in Saudi Arabia handed down a five years and eight months sentence to activist Loujain Al-Hathloul
for publicly supporting women’s right to drive. Nicholas Opiyo, Ugandan human rights lawyer and defender of persecuted members of the LGBTQI community and political opponents of the president was arbitrarily detained on trumped up charges of ‘money laundering.’ Nicholas Opiyo was granted bail
on 30 December following an outpouring of global support for his activism for justice. In handing out the verdict to Loujain Al-Hathloul, the court partly suspended her sentence raising hope that she might be released from prison in a couple of months due to time already served.
If the coronavirus is not deemed a biological weapon, is the heavily-publicized Covid-19 vaccine in danger of being weaponized when over 159,000 Palestinians who have tested positive in Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are being denied treatment during a deadly pandemic?
While Afghanistan ends a historic year, filled with the hope for peace as the government and Taliban sat down for almost three months of consecutive peace talks for the first time in 19 years, it was also a year filled with violence with provisional statistics by the United Nations showing casualties for this year being higher than 2019.
Education and health care were high on the agenda when the United Nations vowed to work toward a better future by setting 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be met by 2030.
Decades of aggressive efforts to create equal opportunities for women, shatter the glass ceiling and build a more inclusive society only ends up in failure, when the key stake holders refuse to acknowledge discriminatory laws, socio-cultural and religious set ups that continue to threaten progress made by the female work force.
Recently I had an opportunity to brief a group of European diplomats and journalists on a variety of conflicts, with a focus on the Middle East. During the Q&A I was asked which of the region’s conflicts Biden should tackle first.
The 26th of September, the Lebanese prime minister Mustapha Adib stepped down after less than a month on his post. The president, Michael Auon, stated: ”Lebanon will be going to Hell if a new government is not formed soon.” The question is if his nation is not there already. A horrifying image of the state of the nation was provided on the 4th of August when 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, stored in a dockside hangar, blew up in an explosion killing more than 190 people, injuring 6,500 and damaging thousands of buildings.
Since before the COVID-19 pandemic, feminists across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have been increasingly shedding light on the global shifts that will shape the Future of Work. From their perspective, those shifts would mainly be driven by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the impact of climate change and the looming global care crisis.
Jordan is one of the driest countries in the world, raking the fifth most water-stressed nation in an analysis
by the World Resources Institute.
After the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of WWI, The League of Nations mandated that Britain administer Palestine. The London administration was quite ineffective, in part, due to the contradictory promises which were made to the Arabs, to the Zionists and to France, the other colonial power which divided the territory with Britain.
Children in Syria are facing the brutal brunt of the ongoing civil war in the country, now rendered further paralysed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and United States sanctions.
At the Sept. 15 launch of the report investigating human rights violations in Syria by the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, experts warned that in addition to the already ongoing conflict, “newer forms of violence” was on the rise.
“I need help, right now I cannot walk properly,” trafficking victim Nkiru Obasi pleaded from her hospital bed in a video she posted online.
The young Nigerian woman had been injured in the Aug. 4 Beirut blast, which ripped through the Lebanese capital, killing 190 people injuring a further 6,500 and damaging 40 percent of the city. However, it’s not her injuries keeping her in Lebanon but a restrictive and abusive system of migrant laws.
Even as Nepali workers stranded overseas face confusion and uncertainty during the Covid-19 crisis, labour reforms in Qatar – including an increase in the minimum wage announced in Doha on Sunday — may have lasting implications for migrants there.
There is not much good news for President Donald Trump of the United States these days. If electoral polls have any credibility, he is staring at the face of almost certain defeat in the elections come November. So, when the so-called Abraham Accord between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was sealed in a telephone call between him and the leaders of Israel and the UAE, signalling a sliver of silver lining in the otherwise hovering dark clouds over him, Trump was ecstatic. A Trump twitter called it a “HUGE breakthrough among “three GREAT friends!”.
The catastrophic explosion in Beirut’s port is a manifestation of the Lebanese political elite’s predation and dysfunction. Among the country’s long-suffering citizens, shock is quickly yielding to fury. It may be the last chance for those in power to effect long-overdue structural reforms.
Migrant workers and refugees in Lebanon will “inevitably” suffer the most as food insecurity threatens the nation following last week’s blast.
They were promised the world but ended up in a Lebanese household. This is the story of many domestic workers in Lebanon. With a 70-year-old sponsor system still in place, domestic workers are tied to their employers with little or no basic rights. The ‘Kafala’ system is the major problem behind what we have been seeing in Beirut in the last months.