International News May 12
Sunni-Shiite fights broke out last week in Beirut, Lebanon with rockets and machine guns claiming 38 lives since last Wednesday, the Associated Press reports. Violence escalated when the government confronted Hezbollah and decided to fire the chief of airport security for alleged ties to the militant group and deemed Hezbollah’s private telephone network illegal. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the rulings led to a declaration of war.
Lebanon reportedly has 17 different religious sects and at least 12 armed groups. The Hezbollah-led opposition quit the cabinet 18 months ago and no new president has been elected since. Army commander Gen. Michel Suleiman is considered a presidential candidate.
The death toll resulting from the earthquake in China’s Sichuan province is about 10,000, with at least 1,000 students and teachers dead or buried in a school that collapsed, Sydney Morning Herald reports. The quake registered 7.8 on the Richter scale. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao declared it a “major disaster” and has ordered military troops to help with disaster relief, Xinhua reports.
The first U.S. plane holding aid for the Southeast Asian nation of Burma was allowed to leave from Thailand, The Telegraph reports. The C-130 plane was loaded with water treatment units, mosquito nets and blankets. News recently surfaced that the Red Cross had been allowed to start dispersing aid to survivors. The World Food Program distributed 38 tons of high-energy biscuits that were withheld last week but have been released.
U.K. Foreign Secretary David Miliband accused the Burmese government of “malign neglect” for obstructing efforts to supply aid. The British government and the Britain’s Disasters Emergency Committee raised GBP10 million so far to contribute to the relief effort Oxfam says is required to save 1.5 million people from hunger and disease.
Police detained upwards of 600 Tibetan women on Sunday in the Nepalese capital of Katmandu following demonstrations against Chinese policies, CBC reports. Police stopped three rallies in the city and put more than 600 protesters in detention centers, including nuns. The central Asian nation has been criticized by the United Nations for its violent treatment of protesters.
Haitian legislators rejected President Rene Preval‘s selection for prime minister, extending a month-long period without a working government, the Associated Press reports. Spokesmen in the lower house of Parliament said banker Ericq Pierre lost a vote that ended his candidacy 51 to 35.
The Caribbean nation has struggled to return to a stable state for the past four years since former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted. The country has long been plagued by violence and is patrolled by about 9,000 U.N. peacekeeping troops and police. Violence escalated recently when food prices soared.