It seems the Americans know something we don’t know as I don’t recall ever reading a warning this specific from an embassy in Lebanon. Let’s hope they are just being extra cautious and those are all speculations.
If you’re wondering what could the worst-case scenario for Lebanon be this year, I suggest you read QifaNabki’s Levantine Dystopia.
Following recent bombings in Beirut and other instances of violence that have occurred in Lebanon in recent months, the U.S. government strongly urges U.S. citizens in Lebanon to exercise extreme caution and to avoid hotels, western-style shopping centers, including western-style grocery chain stores, and any public or social events where U.S. citizens normally congregate, as these sites are likely targets for terrorist attacks for at least the near term.
The U.S. Embassy further urges all U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon due to safety and security concerns. The current travel warning can be seen at this link: Travel Warning for Lebanon. U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks. The ability of U.S. government personnel to reach travelers to provide emergency services may be limited.
We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Lebanon enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Regularly monitor the State Department’s website, Travel.State.Gov, where you can find current Travel Warnings, including the Travel Warning for Lebanon, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution. You can also read the Country Specific Information for Lebanon from within this website. For additional information, refer to “A Safe Trip Abroad” on the State Department’s website.
Contact the U.S. Embassy for up-to-date information on travel restrictions. You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us onTwitter and Facebook, and download our free Smart Traveler App available through iTunes and Google Play to have travel information at your fingertips.
The U.S. Embassy in Beirut Lebanon is located at Awkar facing the Municipality, PO Box 70-840, Beirut and is open Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 4:30 PM, (961) (4) 542600 or (961) (4) 543600. If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance, the emergency number for the U.S. Embassy is (961) (4) 542600 or (961) (4) 543600. For further information, U.S. citizens may also access our website at Embassy in Lebanon. [Source]
I urge everyone to listen carefully to the last part and do what the Lebanese Army tells you to do when a bomb goes off.
Picture via Natheer Halawani
A lot of people haven’t unfortunately heard about this decades-old library in Tripoli up until it got torched today, so I did some research and pulled out old pictures and information about the library and its owner Greek Orthodox Priest Ibrahim Sarrouj.
Al Sa’eh Library was founded in 1970 by the Orthodox Youth movement and consisted of a single room. Few years later, the library published around 10 books. In the early 1980s, they gradually started releasing Orthodox publications. In 1983, Samir Makhoul, Toni Boulos, Ibrahim Sarrouj decided to expand the library and bought the warehouse next to it.
Nowadays, the library has over 80,000 books (not copies), out of which 400 rare books. One of the oldest book in this library according to Father Sarrouj is one that dates back to 1817 written by an American Colonel and is estimated at around $3,000. Speaking of Father Sarrouh who’s a highly esteemed and respected individual in Tripoli, he has shown great interest in Islamic Studies despite being a Greek Orthodox.
The loss of this library is a huge one for Tripoli and Lebanon as a whole. I wish officials would have taken the necessary precautions to preserve it and protect it from the assholes who burned it down.
Sources Used for Pictures and Information:
Father Ibrahim Sarrouj
What sort of people would burn a library these days? This is a shameful and alarming act to be honest. Al-Saeh Library had more than 70,000 books.
Unknown assailants on Friday set fire to a famous library owned by Father Ibrahim Sarrouj in the northern city of Tripoli. “Firemen are trying to extinguish the blaze that erupted in Father Ibrahim Sarrouj’s library in Tripoli’s al-Rahbat street,” LBCI television reported.
The torching of the al-Saeh Library comes after reports that claimed the father had published a book deemed insulting to Islam. Bashir Hazzouri, an employee at the library, was shot and wounded on Thursday in the old souks of Tripoli. Al-Saeh Library is considered one of the most renowned libraries in Tripoli and the second largest in Lebanon.
Sarrouj says the library contains more than 70,000 books. [Link]
PayPal launched in Egypt last year and Lebanon was supposedly next on the list. However, and as per their reply to Jad from the JRExpress, “there are no reasons per se why PayPal is not launching Lebanon, it’s just a matter of priorities”.
My name is Laurent Wakim and I am in charge of PayPal’s business in the MENA region.
As my colleague explained to you, when we announced the launch of PayPal services in Egypt in May, there was a misinterpretation about Lebanon’s launch. In 2012, PayPal decided to have a dedicated team focusing on the MENA region. As part of the priorities, expanding our geographic footprint is among the most important ones. That’s why we launched our business in Egypt.
Lebanon is an important market to us (and to me being Lebanese) however when PayPal looks at new opportunities, we need to prioritize them and they compete against other initiatives whether new products, new geographies, …etc. So while enabling Lebanon remains a priority for us, we don’t have any timeline that we can share. There are no reasons per se why PayPal is not launching Lebanon, it is a matter of priorities.
My best regards.
Picture taken from Vice
Vice interviewed one of Roumieh’s ex-inmates and asked him how it felt like to spend 6 months in the prison and get released after. The revelations are quite shocking to say the least.
Read the full interview [Here].
Roumieh, Lebanon’s most notorious prison, is not somewhere you want to find yourself. The facility regularly holds up to 5,500 inmates, including some of the country’s most high-profile criminals—among them, former Israeli agents and Salafists linked with insurrections against the Lebanese state. The prison is yet to meet the minimum standards stipulated by the UN. Those who officiate the prison have also faced numerous accusations of corruption; high-security prisoners have escaped, reportedly without authorities even realizing, and prison guards and doctors have been charged with trafficking drugs inside its walls.
How rampant was the drug abuse?
I’d say 90 percent, or higher, of the inmates were using. It stretched from prescription drugs, like benzocaine and Tramol, to hashish, cocaine, and heroin. Everything is available: benzocaine being the cheapest, with heroin and cocaine the most expensive. There is no chance of rehabilitation. I remember one inmate saying to me, “The only thing they have imprisoned here is my dick.”
Some people had [homosexual] relationships, but they wouldn’t show it. Late at night or early in the morning, when most people were asleep or high, they would go to the bathroom. Two guys would pay the janitor a couple grams of hashish in order not to let anyone in for ten to 15 minutes. They wouldn’t be abused or ostracised, but if the sharwishe found out then they would be beaten up.
A Hezbollah member holds a rifle at the site of an explosion in Beirut’s southern suburbs.(Reuters)
We ended 2013 with a deadly explosion and we started the year 2014 in Beirut with a new explosion that killed 6 and injured tens. Unlike Mohammad Chatah’s assassination, there were no booby-trapped cars but a suicide bomber this time and the target were innocent civilians.
One of the victims whose pictures got spread on social media networks is a young girl called Malak Zahwi who unfortunately got killed along with her mother Iman in the bombing.
The situation is more and more worrying to be honest. Suicide bombers are the worst thing that could hit us or any country. It’s almost impossible to detect them and even if you do, it’s probably too late.
May all the victims R.I.P.
Picture via Reuters
Picture via Reuters
Picture via Reuters
According to the UN, more than half of 2.2 million Syrian refugees are children, with around 400,000 Syrian Children living in Lebanon. The Children are facing a catastrophic life in exile as they’re missing out on education, food, medical attention and are forced to work to provide for their families.
Here’s what two of the kids wished in this video:
“I hope that things go back to normal and that we can eat and drink, and that we can play with our friends.”
“We are under siege: I want meat. It’s been a year since we had any meat”
The Lebanese Ministry of Interior and the Union of Owners of Private Taxis in Lebanon are launching an initiative to prevent people from driving under the influence of alcohol. The owners of establishments that offer alcohol should prevent their customers from driving drunk and call center traffic management in Lebanon on 1720, who in return will send a taxi to the designated place. [Source]
Check out the [awareness campaign] the Ministry of Interior has launched recently.