News from Beirut October 22  1997 ...Search

Israeli warplanes strike in the South

Israeli warplanes attacked suspected Hizbullah targets to the north of the zone Israel occupies in South Lebanon. Lebanese security sources said two Israeli warplanes fired four rockets into the area of Mazraat Iqmata in the Iqlim Al-Touffah heights. It was the fourth air attack on Lebanon in less than a week. There was no immediate report of casualties in the assault on the hills of Iqlim al-Touffah, the 67th air raid on Lebanon since the beginning of this year. Earlier this morning, the resistance in the South attacked Israeli allied militia posts in Toumat Niha.

Lebanese premier pays brief visit to Kuwait

Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri is in on a one-day visit to Kuwait to discuss bilateral ties and the peace process. The visit was initially aimed at paying a courtesy call on Kuwait's Crown prince. As well as meeting the Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah, the Lebanese premier also held talks with Kuwait's Crown Prince Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah al-Sabah and other senior officials. The Lebanese embassy in Kuwait said Hariri's visit, due to end later today, was to discuss bilateral relations and pay a courtesy call to congratulate Sheikh Saad on his return to the emirate. The Kuwaiti Crown Prince returned to his country on October 12 after seven months abroad recovering from colon surgery.

Hrawi reportedly not committed to holding early presidential elections

President Elias Al-Hrawi today met former Prime Minister Saeb Slam at Baabda. After their meeting, Slam quoted the president as saying he is not tying himself to earlier remarks in which he said he would not object to holding early presidential elections. Lebanese media reports had quoted Hrawi expressing his desire to step down early. Presidential polls are scheduled for November 1998.

House Speaker Nabih Berri was quoted today by his visitors as saying he will not comment on the issue adding it is pre-mature to do that now bearing in mind the country's need of finding ways to finance projects.

Prime Minster Rafik Al-Hariri had said yesterday "the president has told me on many occasions that he does not wish for an extension, and that he wants to rest, but that talk of beginning a presidential campaign now is out of place."

Monitoring group hears Lebanese and Israeli complaints

International committee monitoring a truce in South Lebanon urged Israelis and Lebanese to ensure that residential areas are not affected by their military actions. The committee, which met yesterday in Naqoura to discuss a Lebanese complaint and an Israeli protest against violations of the April understanding, released a statement saying both sides are responsible for the way in which their assaults are conducted. The panel said that on October 17, "mortar rounds fired by the Israeli forces or those cooperating with them impacted in the Southern part of the village of Mashghara, injuring two innocent civilians and damaging houses and civilian equipment." The Lebanese delegate on the panel said the firing which " followed a legitimate military action of a Lebanese armed group conducted from a site away from populated areas, constituted a violation of the understanding." The Israeli delegate said it was a "self-defensive counterfire to a Lebanese armed group attack which had been conducted at an insufficient distance from houses." The panel also acknowledged that on October 19 a roadside bomb was detonated by Lebanese armed group on Anan- Bish road. A vehicle was blown up and two of its occupants killed.

The Israeli delegate said that while " the driver was connected with forces cooperating with Israel, the passenger was an innocent civilian, and therefore the attack was a violation of the understanding." The Lebanese delegate rejected this, saying the driver was collaborating with the Israelis and " the passenger had been closely assisting him in all aspects and that as a result, the action and target were legitimate." The panel, which includes delegates from France, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, and the United States met yesterday at the UN Interim Forces headquarters at Naqoura.

Richard Murphy in Lebanon

Former US assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Richard Murphy, today held talks with Minister of Industry Nadim Salem. After their meeting, Murphy said the situation in Lebanon is very good encouraging Americans to visit the country. Murphy hailed the recent lifting of the US travel ban on Lebanon which he celebrated 7 weeks ago upon visiting Lebanon for the first time after the ban was lifted. Murphy expressed admiration at the reconstruction going on in the country describing all the development  projects as international.

Head of the Mideast Institute in Washington, Rosko Sadders who is accompanying Murphy, said after talks with the minister of industry praised the reconstruction efforts particularly in down town Beirut describing it as truly amazing. He said it is on of the most gigantic and ambitious projects he has ever seen, adding it seems well conceived to attract foreign business and bring back the regional aspect of Lebanon. Sadders said the Middle East Institute aims at establishing contact with organizations and think tanks in Lebanon. Murphy and Sadders later held talks with Acting Finance Minister of State Fouad Sanyoura and the governor of the central bank of Lebanon, Riyad Salameh.

A special feature on Illiteracy in Lebanon

13.6% of the Lebanese citizens are illiterate. This according to recent studies by the ministry of social affairs which besides helping young drop-outs, prepares special programs for adult illiterates. The study was carried out in 1996 due to cooperation between the National Committee for literacy and education of adults in the ministry of social affairs and the UN population fund. It showed that 13.6% of the Lebanese are illiterate, with the percentage of females double than that of males. According to Amal Sharara, director of the committee, many families cannot even afford to send their children to public schools and pay for tuition fees as well as books and uniforms. Dropping out of school at a young age due to the lack of money is another problem. This forces youngsters to work. Sharara added "even though primary education is compulsory by law, enforcement can only be possible through offering free education and activating the role of public schools. The number and geographic distribution of public schools should be also reconsidered to accommodate as many Lebanese citizens as possible."

Sharara explained the number of female illiterates is higher due to certain social conceptions inherent in our society and due to the fact that parents prefer to teach their sons rather than their daughters, because productivity is linked to men and not to women who marry at an early age in such environments.

Children are not the only ones who suffer from illiteracy. The ministry of  social affairs prepares special programs for illiterate adults. In one of  its branches in Bourj Al-Barajneh, there are two classes for females. They are basically taught how to read and write. They also learn simple mathematical calculations, in addition to manual activities that help them to be better housewives and mothers. Health education is also part of the program. They have special books as well as learn through dialogue.

The women can bring along their children who will be given enough attention until their mothers finish their classes. The institution tried to include men in its special literacy classes, but only three applied, a number which is not enough to open a separate class. Moreover, these men have jobs and can only attend evening classes which are rarely offered at such an institution where education is free.

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