A Lebanese woman holds a placard during a protest in solidarity with residents of the Syrian capital's eastern suburb of Ghouta, in front the Russian embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018. The Syrian capital and its embattled eastern suburbs were relatively calm on Sunday, following the U.N. Security Council's unanimous approval of a resolution demanding a 30-day cease-fire across Syria, opposition activists and residents of Damascus said. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
A Lebanese woman holds a placard during a protest in solidarity with residents of the Syrian capital's eastern suburb of Ghouta. Bilal Hussein / AP

Demonstrators show support for Ghouta amidst feelings of hopelessness

Demonstrators in Lebanon filled a square on Sunday to decry the violence that has gripped eastern Ghouta over the past week.

Despite the protesters' pleas, resignation reigned amongst the people that gathered in the small square in downtown Beirut in support of the ravaged suburb of Damascus. Many expected the carnage would continue.

“It’s to express solidarity,” said Ali Khedr, a 26-year-old photographer from the central Syrian city of Hama. “We all know that no matter what we do, it’s the same.”

Mr Khedr compared the demonstration to a funeral.

“You have to be there for the family,” he said. “This is what the people I’m talking to there are asking us to do.”

The Syrian government, with support from Russia, has carried out a week of intense air and artillery bombardment in eastern Ghouta, the collective name for a string of suburbs close to Damascus.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported that approximately 500 civilians were killed in airstrikes in the last week.

The United Nations estimates that between 300,000 and 400,000 people have been under siege in Ghouta since 2013, a situation that worsened last year when regime forces shut the main routes of entry for civilian goods.

The blockade sent food prices skyrocketing and created a shortage of medical supplies and basic care that has seen people die from treatable conditions.

Obaida, a Syrian man from the city of Homs who asked that his last name not be used, said he was in daily contact with his friends in Ghouta and that nothing had changed despite a UN security council vote on Saturday in support of a 30-day ceasefire.


Read more:

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Comment: Eastern Ghouta: the guilty parties have a terrible account to settle


“They are still in the basements,” he said, referring to the makeshift shelters people have crowded into in order to escape the bombs. “We are just here to support them. We can’t do anything else. We are helpless.”

In better times, eastern Ghouta was home to as many as two million people. Its orchards and farms provided food to Damascus and its factories were known for furniture and handmade wooden goods.

The demonstration was largely a silent vigil, with chants against the Syrian government, Iran and Hezbollah - whose intervention in the war has been key to the government’s survival.

The protesters also called on other foreign actors, including the US, Russia and Turkey, to stop intervening in Syria.

“We all know that our voice does not affect the international community,” said a woman from the coastal Syrian city of Lattakia who asked that her name not be used.

“But we have to support the people in Ghouta who are dying,” she said, adding that she couldn't have imagined today's conflict when she joined demonstrators calling for democracy seven years ago.

“We didn’t think the whole world would be fighting in our country,” she said. “Even after a few years, we still had hope. Not that we would win, but at least to have a life in Syria. Now we have no hope.”

On Sunday, Humam Husari, a filmmaker in eastern Ghouta, said that the bombardment and clashes were continuing despite the UN vote.

“They tried testing the UN Security Council agreement this morning by going out, but the shelling forced them to go back to basements again,” Mr Husari said.

Rand, a 23-year-old student from Damascus who asked that her last name be withheld, said that she had been trying to keep in touch with friends in Ghouta but that the necessity of staying underground meant they often had no mobile phone service.

“We know that so far no one has died,” she said. “But we don’t think a 30-day period of calm is enough. We want an end to the war.”

“We know it’s not going to change anything,” said Ahmad Qusair, one of the organizers of the demonstration. It’s about getting out anger.”

“It’s symbolic,” agreed Nabil Al Halabi, a Lebanese human rights lawyer and activist.

Sinopharm vaccine explained

The Sinopharm vaccine was created using techniques that have been around for decades. 

“This is an inactivated vaccine. Simply what it means is that the virus is taken, cultured and inactivated," said Dr Nawal Al Kaabi, chair of the UAE's National Covid-19 Clinical Management Committee.

"What is left is a skeleton of the virus so it looks like a virus, but it is not live."

This is then injected into the body.

"The body will recognise it and form antibodies but because it is inactive, we will need more than one dose. The body will not develop immunity with one dose," she said.

"You have to be exposed more than one time to what we call the antigen."

The vaccine should offer protection for at least months, but no one knows how long beyond that.

Dr Al Kaabi said early vaccine volunteers in China were given shots last spring and still have antibodies today.

“Since it is inactivated, it will not last forever," she said.


Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

HIV on the rise in the region

A 2019 United Nations special analysis on Aids reveals 37 per cent of new HIV infections in the Mena region are from people injecting drugs.

New HIV infections have also risen by 29 per cent in western Europe and Asia, and by 7 per cent in Latin America, but declined elsewhere.

Egypt has shown the highest increase in recorded cases of HIV since 2010, up by 196 per cent.

Access to HIV testing, treatment and care in the region is well below the global average.  

Few statistics have been published on the number of cases in the UAE, although a UNAIDS report said 1.5 per cent of the prison population has the virus.


Welterweight Mostafa Radi (PAL) v Tohir Zhuraev (TJK)

Catchweight 75kg Leandro Martins (BRA) v Anas Siraj Mounir (MAR)

Flyweight Corinne Laframboise (CAN) v Manon Fiorot (FRA)

Featherweight Ahmed Al Darmaki (UAE) v Bogdan Kirilenko (UZB)

Lightweight Izzedine Al Derabani (JOR) v Atabek Abdimitalipov (KYG)

Featherweight Yousef Al Housani (UAE) v Mohamed Arsharq Ali (SLA)

Catchweight 69kg Jung Han-gook (KOR) v Elias Boudegzdame (ALG)

Catchweight 71kg Usman Nurmagomedov (RUS) v Jerry Kvarnstrom (FIN)

Featherweight title Lee Do-gyeom (KOR) v Alexandru Chitoran (ROU)

Lightweight title Bruno Machado (BRA) v Mike Santiago (USA)

Afro salons

For women:
Sisu Hair Salon, Jumeirah 1, Dubai
Boho Salon, Al Barsha South, Dubai
Moonlight, Al Falah Street, Abu Dhabi
For men:
MK Barbershop, Dar Al Wasl Mall, Dubai
Regency Saloon, Al Zahiyah, Abu Dhabi
Uptown Barbershop, Al Nasseriya, Sharjah


Chelsea 1 (Hudson-Odoi 90+1')

Manchester City 3 (Gundogan 18', Foden 21', De Bruyne 34')

Man of the match: Ilkay Gundogan (Man City)