Lebanon’s Central Bank has set up a committee to restructure financially-stricken commercial banks and study their performance, a memo by the bank seen by Reuters on Thursday showed.
“The panel will also propose measures to preserve the soundness of the banking sector,’’ the memo said.
Lebanese banks are poised for a major shake-out after the country plunged into a financial crisis in October 2019 that has ballooned prices, slashed jobs, and brought on capital controls that have frozen people out of their dollar savings.
A government rescue plan that has served as the cornerstone of talks with the International Monetary Fund to help Lebanon out of its financial crisis maps out massive losses in the financial system.
The talks with the IMF have been bogged down by a dispute between the government and the central bank over the scale of the losses and how they should be shared.
Debt-saddled Lebanon has around 40 banks serving a population of around 6 million.
The sector has swelled to four times the size of the economy thanks to decades of taking in billions of dollars every year from Lebanon’s widely scattered diaspora to help fund the government.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu (NAN)
Lebanese foreign minister resigns to protest government’s poor performance
Lebanese Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti submitted his resignation on Monday to protest the government’s poor performance, warning that Lebanon could become a “failed state.”
Hitti said he wished government members would reconsider many policies and practices to prioritise the interests of the citizens and the country.
If those in power did not work towards the interests of the Lebanese people “to rescue them, then the boat, God forbid, will sink with everyone,” Hitti said in a statement.
“Lebanon today is not the same that we cherished and wanted as a beacon and a model. Lebanon today is slipping into becoming a failed state,” Hitti added.
Hitti submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Hassan Diab.
A Lebanese government source said that Hitti’s resignation was also the result of Diab undermining the foreign minister’s position during last month’s visit by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
“Hitti felt he was being marginalized regarding certain regional issues,” the source, who requested anonymity, told dpa.
Diab, supported by the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement and their main ally Lebanese President Michel Aoun was appointed to form a government on Dec. 19 amid nationwide mass protests against corruption and for economic reforms.
In January, Diab formed his 20-member cabinet which vowed to tackle an ongoing economic crisis, which has been the worst to hit the country since the 1975-90 civil war.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Israeli army says it hit squad placing explosives along Syria border
The army said it “thwarted an attempt by 4 terrorists” to place the explosives.
“Our troops and aircraft fired toward the squad & a hit was identified,” the IDF said in a tweet, adding that they were “ready for any scenario & hold the Syrian regime responsible for all events in Syria.”
“We understand that they are killed,” a senior IDF officer later told dpa, speaking on the four armed men.
An engineering force was in the area and was about to “neutralise” the bomb, he said.
He was unable to say to which organisation the group belonged.
Throughout the week soldiers on lookout posts with a view of the border had been aware of “suspicious” activity and seen men dressed as shepherds approaching the border fence, the officer said.
On Sunday evening, they again spotted suspects approaching the border at around 8 pm (1700 GMT).
At around 11 pm (2000 GMT) they spotted four armed men approaching the fence, placing an explosive device near the fence.
“After they placed the improvised explosive device, we opened fire at them,” the senior officer, who declined to be named, told dpa, first from the ground, and subsequently also from an Israeli aircraft.
The bomb was placed at an Israeli outpost that “wasn’t manned at the moment, but can be manned when necessary.”
The squad had crossed the so-called alpha line separating the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights and Syria.
However, they had not crossed the fence securing the border, built by Israel several metres inwards from the alpha line.
Israel for the past weeks has been on heightened alert along the borders with Lebanon and with Syria, after it reportedly unwittingly killed a member of the Lebanese Shi’ite Hezbollah movement in an airstrike outside the Syrian capital of Damascus, destroying an arms depot.
Israel has not confirmed or denied the airstrike, but admitted it was being “active” in both countries to prevent Iran from widening its influence in the region, whether through its proxies such as Hezbollah, or its own Revolutionary Guards.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syrian in the 1967 Six-Day War.
It applied its sovereignty over the strategic plateau overlooking the Sea of Galilee in 1981.
The heavily secured border has largely been quiet in recent years and incidents of this sort have been rare.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Oyo govt. to repatriate trafficked indigenes stranded in Lebanon – Makinde
Gov. Seyi Makinde of Oyo State says the state will ensure the repatriation of all its indigenes found to have been trafficked to Lebanon.
This was contained in a statement issued on Sunday in Ibadan by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Taiwo Adisa.
The statement indicated that Makinde stated this while receiving a brief on the plight of the state indigenes trafficked to Lebanon from the Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora Matters, Mrs Bolanle Sarumi-Aliyu.
The governor said that the state would not stand by and be watching its indigenes suffer dehumanization, under any guise, in any part of the world.
“We will pay for the repatriation of all Oyo State indigenes who have been confirmed to have been trafficked to Lebanon. Please, put all the necessary plans in place to bring them back.
“I understand that some well-meaning individuals and groups have made some donations to some of the victims. Let them use such donations as pocket money.
“This state will pay for their flights and the fees requested to conduct COVID-19 tests on each of them,” he said.
Earlier, Sarumi-Aliyu informed the governor that a number of Oyo State indigenes had been discovered to be illegal migrants who were trafficked into modern-day slavery in Lebanon.
She said that while 40 of such victims had been screened and ready for the journey back home, more were still being discovered.
The governor’s aide added that her office had been working closely with the Lebanese authorities to identify those indigenes stranded in Lebanon, adding that the 40 victims already screened would be returning home on Aug.12.
“Since the government found out that we have some victims of human trafficking, who are stranded in Lebanon, we have stepped in.
“On July 11, we received 11 victims and they are going through rehabilitation with the social workers in the Ministry of Women Affairs.
“The state has given commitment that they will all be empowered. The same thing will happen to those we are expecting from the flight from Lebanon this August, once they have been cleared.” Sarumi-Aliyu stated.
Edited by ‘Wale Sadeeq
30 Nigerian ladies in Lebanon appeal for rescue
Some 30 Nigerian ladies trafficked to Lebanon are appealing to Nigerian Government to rescue them as they are stranded in that country.
Abayomi said that the message was being relayed based on an encounter with the victims, which necessitated the call for a speedy rescue action from government.
“JIFORM has forwarded details of the human trafficking agents involved in this matter to the relevant agencies and shall monitor it to the logical conclusion to ensure proper investigation and prosecution of those involved.’’
He said that the ladies were all camped in one room with faulty toilet and other utilities, and were presently housed in a building at Dawra city in Lebanon.
Abayomi said one of the victims, Miss Adebisi Comfort-Oluwatoyin with Passport No. number A10597908, disclosed to JIFORM that they had to escape from the inhuman treatment by their mistresses and hosts.
According to him, the 23 years old lady hails from Ondo State, graduated from the Edo State Polytechnic, Ekpoma, and was a resident in Osun State before departing Nigeria in December 2019.
“Help us plead with the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and others to save us. The Nigerian embassy in Lebanon have tried but we want to go back home.
“Our belongings and international passports were seized with no payments for the service we have been rendering for months. They loosen and cut our hairs with razor blade.
“The police and their immigration are always on their side. We are not getting justice and our lives are in danger,” Abayomi quoted the victim as saying.
Abayomi said that the Executive Director, Rescue Africans In Slavery Organisation (RAIS), Ms Omotola Fawunmi, who spoke from the United States of America, also pleaded with government and other agencies to come to the victims aid.
Fawunmi who claimed she has been responsible for the upkeeps of the ladies stated that the victims are seriously suffering.
“The Nigerian government must act fast. Apart from this case, there are over 300 of them trapped in Oman and thousands across other Asian countries, beyond sustaining the ladies, we have facilitated evacuation of thousands of human trafficking victims in the last few years,” she said.
“First, we want the ladies to be rescued as soon as possible. Their condition is very critical because they don’t have good shelter, food and they need urgent medical attention. My personal conversation with Comfort showed that they were really in a bad state at the moment.
“After rescuing the ladies, there must be thorough investigation and punishment for the agents and other human traffickers involved in this,” Henshaw pleaded.
Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)