Two Iran prisoners begin hunger strike, supporters say

A handout picture taken in 2012 in an unlocated location and released on July 16, 2019 by Sciences Po university shows Franco-Iranian academic Adelkhah Fariba, 60. Two French and Australian academics held in Iran over espionage charges have gone on a indefinite hunger strike as of Christmas Eve, France's Sciences Po University confirmed. (AFP)
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Updated 26 December 2019

Two Iran prisoners begin hunger strike, supporters say

  • Iran has stepped up detentions of foreign and dual nationals

PARIS: Two foreign academics detained in Iran have begun a hunger strike in protest against their incarceration, according to a letter published by their supporters.
Franco-Iranian researcher Fariba Adelkhah and British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert said in the letter dated Dec. 24 they had begun refusing food and water at the Evin prison in Tehran where they are being held.
The women's protest was also announced in a tweet by the international research institute at France's Sciences Po school, where Adelkhah is employed as a senior research fellow.
"CERI confirms the hunger strike begun by Fariba Adelkhah and her co-detainee Kylie Moore-Gilbert," the institute said on Wednesday.
Iran has stepped up detentions of foreign and dual nationals amid a protracted standoff with Western powers, after the United States withdrew from an international agreement to curb Iranian nuclear activities and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.
Moore-Gilbert, a specialist in Middle East politics at the University of Melbourne, has been detained for more than a year. British and Australian media have reported that she has been sentenced to 10 years in jail by Iranian authorities.
Adelkhah was arrested by Iran's Revolutionary Guard this year and accused of spying.
In their letter, the academics said they had been "subjected to psychological torture and numerous violations of our basic human rights", without elaborating.
Iran has rebuffed French President Emmanuel Macron's demands that it release Adelkah and Roland Marchal, her Sciences Po colleague who was also arrested in October.


World Bank approves $34 million to back Lebanon’s coronavirus vaccination drive

Updated 54 min 47 sec ago

World Bank approves $34 million to back Lebanon’s coronavirus vaccination drive

  • Lebanon has seen daily infection rates soar to the highest levels in the region

WASHINGTON: The World Bank on Thursday said it had approved a re-allocation of $34 million in funds to support Lebanon’s vaccination efforts as it races to contain the coronavirus pandemic, marking the first such outlay of funds by the Bank.
Lebanon has seen daily infection rates soar to the highest levels in the region, with over 6,000 cases reported on Friday, adding to economic and political pressures caused by a financial collapse and a huge port blast in August.
Thursday’s re-allocation of funds from Lebanon’s existing Health Resilience Project, is the first World Bank-financed operation to fund the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
It will provide vaccines for over 2 million individuals, with doses set to arrive in Lebanon by early February, and earmarked for priority groups such as high-risk health workers, those over 65, epidemiological and surveillance staff, and people aged 55 to 64 with co-morbidities.
“Fair, broad, and fast access to COVID-19 vaccines is critical to protecting lives and supporting economic recovery,” World Bank Group President David Malpass said in a statement.
The World Bank said the decision to free the funds followed efforts by Lebanese authorities to conduct a vaccine readiness assessment, establish a national vaccine committee, and prepare a draft National Vaccine Deployment Plan (NVDP) in line with World Health Organization recommendations.
The Bank is working closely with over 100 countries to pave the way for them to receive low-interest loans and funding to purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines as part of a new $12 billion initiative approved in October.