The Middle East at war with coronavirus: Top stories from 14 April

The Middle East at war with coronavirus: Top stories from 14 April
IMF is providing Yemen immediate debt relief in bid to fight coronavirus, Mossad admits to stealing face masks amid a global shortage of PPE, and more.
3 min read
14 April, 2020
Get the latest coronavirus updates on the Middle East, here [TNA]
Here are five stories you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic and how it is affecting the Middle East on 14 April:
1. IMF is providing Yemen immediate debt relief to help fight coronavirus

Twenty-four other countries, including Yemen, will receive grants covering debt obligations to help stop the coronavoris epidemic, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Monday.

The relief will be rolled out for a period of six months and help the countries in focusing their resources to stem the flow of Covid-19.

“This provides grants to our poorest and most vulnerable members to cover their IMF debt obligations ... and will help them channel more of their scarce financial resources towards vital emergency medical and other relief efforts,” IMF’s Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, said in a statement.

The grants are included in the IMF’s recently revamped Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT), which currently has around $500 million in resources, according to Georgienva – $215 million of which will be used in the six-month aid program.

2. Mossad admits to stealing face masks

Israel’s spy agency Mossad has admitted to stealing face masks and other medical supplies in a shocking admission during an interview with Israeli media.

The intelligence agency has and will use all means to procure necessary equipment during the pandemic, according to Ilana Dayan, host of Channel 12's "Fact".

When asked whether those efforts have included theft, the head of the intelligence agency's technology division, identified by "Fact" only as H., affirmed: "We stole, but only a little."

"The citizens of Israel will have no shortage," he said according to Haaretz. "In the world in general there will be a great shortage. People are dying because of a lack of equipment. In Israel people won't go without."

3. Lebanon delays cash assistance rollout to vulnerable families

The Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs has indefinitely postponed its promised cash assistance to families in need, which was set to start direct distribution on Tuesday.

In an official statement released on Monday night, the ministry said it will hold off the distribution of the one-time cash assistance of LL 400,000 – around $140 in market exchange prices – per family.

The government body said the delay was due to "errors" in lists presented by the local authorities to the national army.

"Due to several mistakes in the presented lists, the ministry decided to postpone the distribution of this aid until the army has concluded its inspection," the ministerial statement said.

4. Quarantined Israeli settlers attack Palestinian campers and set cars on fire

A group of young settlers who had been placed in a military-run coronavirus quarantine facility viciously attacked Palestinian campers and set their cars on fire on Monday night.

The settlers had been placed under quarantine after they come into contact with a sick patient who tested positive for Covid-19.

Police said they opened up an investigation though no arrests have been made - a common occurrence when it comes to settler violence against Palestinians.

5. Egypt religious authority advises Muslims to donate to coronavirus relief instead of travelling to Mecca

Egypt's official Islamic institution urged Egyptians to donate their Umrah funds towards coronavirus relief efforts in the country, the institution announced on Monday, after Saudi Arabia suspended the pilgrimage over Covid-19 fears.

Dar Al-Ifta launched a campaign hashtag titled #Charity_First, which invites Egyptians to redirect funds meant for their Umrah pilgrimage during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan towards efforts against the spread of Covid-19.

"An invitation to all the Umrah pilgrims whose circumstances this year prevented them from performing your rites," the insitution stated on Facebook.

"Give charity at the cost of Umrah to the poor, the needy, and those affected by daily labour."

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