Egypt Independent: World-Main news en Ebola-infected Italian doctor 'recovering' <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>An Italian doctor who contracted Ebola in west Africa is recovering but is still in an isolation unit, the specialist clinic in Rome treating him said Monday.</p><p>The Spallanzani institute said on Twitter that the 50-year-old medic -- who has not been named -- was in a &quot;good condition&quot; and was &quot;recovering in isolation&quot;.</p><p>The father of two was repatriated in November from Sierra Leone with a fever and given an experimental drug to try to combat the often-deadly virus.</p><p>The doctor -- who became the first Italian to be infected with Ebola while volunteering for an Italian medical charity fighting the epidemic -- can now breathe, walk and eat unassisted.</p><p>Ebola, a disease transmitted through the bodily fluids of infected people, can result in death from uncontrollable bleeding and organ failure.</p><p>The current Ebola epidemic in west Africa -- the worst ever recorded -- has so far killed around 7,350 people.</p> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 19:41:00 +0000 AFP 2441736 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/11/25/499612/doctor_with_ebola.jpg Syria crisis has cost Lebanon $20 bn, says minister <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Nearly four years of civil war in Syria have cost its tiny neighbour Lebanon more than 20 billion dollars (16 billion euros), the social affairs minister told AFP on Monday.</p><p>&quot;Several factors brought on by the Syria crisis have caused a loss of more than $20 billion&quot; since March 2011, Rashid Derbas said.</p><p>&quot;Because of this, infrastructure planned to last for 15 years will now have to be changed in just two because of intensive use&quot; due to the presence of 1.1 million refugees from Syria, he added.</p><p>He also cited the use of energy resources, primarily electricity, by refugees unable to pay for it.</p><p>Tourism has also been hit hard, Derbas said of some 500,000 tourists who used to arrive overland via Syria.</p><p>He expressed regret that much of the international aid pledged to help Lebanon cope with the influx has yet to materialise.</p><p>&quot;We have received just half of the amount promised for 2013 and only 44 percent this year,&quot; Derbas said.</p><p>Refugees now account for a quarter of Lebanon&#39;s population and cost Beirut $4.5 billion a year, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh said in June.</p><p>Basing this estimate on a World Bank study, he said &quot;the direct cost to the Lebanese state is around a billion dollars per annum, with an indirect cost of 3.5 billion&quot;.</p> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 19:14:00 +0000 AFP 2441735 at sites/default/files/photo/2012/05/13/26837/sunni_gunman_fires_his_weapon_during_clashes_in_tripoli_lebanon.jpg Mugabe fires more cabinet ministers <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has fired two cabinet ministers and five deputy ministers, the presidency announced late Sunday, in an apparent purge targeting allies of his former deputy Joice Mujuru.</p><p>The move came after months of political upheaval in Zimbabwe over the succession to 90-year-old Mugabe when he dies or steps down.</p><p>Mugabe, who is currently holidaying in Asia, dismissed Flora Buka, minister of state for presidential affairs and Sylvester Nguni, minister of state in the office of the vice president, saying &quot;their conduct and performance were below expected standards&quot;, according to a presidency statement.</p><p>The two were seen as allies of former vice president Mujuru, who was dismissed two weeks ago along with seven cabinet ministers and a deputy minister.</p><p>Five deputy ministers -- for health, justice, rural affairs, work and transport -- were also dismissed on Sunday.</p><p>Once seen as favourite to step into Mugabe&#39;s shoes, Mujuru has since come under constant attack, notably from Mugabe&#39;s increasingly powerful wife Grace.</p><p>Mujuru has been accused of plotting to assassinate the president, fomenting factional divisions in the ruling party, and of dodgy business dealings.</p><p>Mujuru was replaced as vice president by Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, a long-time ally of Mugabe.</p> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 15:17:00 +0000 AFP 2441725 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/12/22/499612/zimbabwe_president_robert_mugabe.jpg Gaza ripe for new explosion, analysts warn <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Barely four months after a bloody conflict battered Gaza, experts warn that a new war could be in the offing if reconstruction is not accelerated and Palestinian divisions remain.</p><p>Since the end of the deadly 50-day war between Israel and Hamas, which killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians and 73 in Israel, little has changed on the ground in Gaza.</p><p>Swathes of the territory lie in ruins and tens of thousands of people remain homeless.</p><p>With reconstruction still conspicuous by its absence and talks to bolster the August truce repeatedly postponed, frustration is growing in Gaza -- and with it the danger of a new outbreak of violence.</p><p>This weekend, for the first time since the war ended on August 26, Israeli warplanes struck southern Gaza after militants fired a rocket over the border, the third time this has happened in four months.</p><p>Although nobody was hurt on either side, the exchange of fire raised concerns that the fragile truce could deteriorate rapidly.</p><p>Last week, as Hamas militants paraded through Gaza with rocket launchers and missiles in a show of force to mark the 27th anniversary of the Islamist group&#39;s founding, they were quick to warn that the situation was unsustainable.</p><p>&quot;If there is no reconstruction of what Israel destroyed, we warn you that there will be an explosion,&quot; warned the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas&#39;s military wing.</p><p>&quot;If our demands are ignored, there will be consequences for the enemy, its people and its leaders.&quot;</p><p><strong>- Slipping towards war -</strong></p><p>The glacial pace of reconstruction is the most immediate concern for Gaza, where UN figures show more than 96,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in the war, leaving 100,000 people homeless.</p><p>Over the past eight years, Gaza has been subjected to an Israeli blockade which has effectively barred the entry of most construction materials on grounds that militants could use them for other purposes.</p><p>After the war, the UN brokered a mechanism which would allow such goods in while ensuring they do not fall into the wrong hands.</p><p>Palestinian officials say Israel has effectively blocked reconstruction by limiting supplies entering Gaza, but diplomatic sources say the UN-brokered mechanism has taken longer than expected to get up and running.</p><p>The process has also been slowed by infighting between Hamas and Fatah, its West Bank-based rival which dominates the Palestinian Authority and has been tasked with managing reconstruction.</p><p>&quot;The circumstances are as they were before the war,&quot; Israeli commentator Avi Issacharoff said.</p><p>&quot;If the blockade continues, the borders remain closed and building is slow in the next six months, Hamas will move towards escalation, and depending on Israel&#39;s response, it could turn into a new war.&quot;</p><p>Gaza-based analyst Walid al-Mudallal agreed that Hamas was under increasing pressure.</p><p>&quot;If it remains frozen in terms of reconstruction, war will be the only option. Hamas will have no choice,&quot; he said.</p><p>Figures cited by international aid charity Oxfam indicate 287 truckloads -- each carrying around 40 tonnes of essential building materials -- entered Gaza in November.</p><p>But officials say that if Gaza is to be rebuilt within three years, it would need to be receiving at least 7,000 tonnes -- or 175 truckloads -- every day.</p><p>&quot;The options are few and very difficult, ranging from bad to worse. As Israel slows the entry of building materials, Egypt closes the (Rafah) border and reconciliation fails to be implemented,&quot; Mudallal said.</p><p><strong>- &#39;At boiling point&#39; -</strong></p><p>Reconstruction aside, analysts say the conditions which led to the deadly summer conflict are largely still in place.</p><p>&quot;Gaza, almost four months after the war, remains a pressure cooker at boiling point,&quot; wrote Amos Harel in Israel&#39;s Haaretz newspaper, saying the situation was similar to before the fighting that began on July 8.</p><p>Before the war, Hamas -- already struggling under the Israeli blockade -- found itself under increasing pressure from Egypt which dealt Gaza a harsh blow by destroying a network of cross-border smuggling tunnels and closing the Rafah crossing, triggering a major financial crisis.</p><p>In a bid to ease the pressure, Hamas signed a unity agreement with Fatah in the hope that the Palestinian Authority would facilitate payment of its Gaza employees.</p><p>But the deal has never been properly implemented, and tensions between the two has only festered.</p><p>&quot;The likelihood of war is there,&quot; said Naji Sharab, a politics professor at Al-Azhar University.</p><p>&quot;Hamas&#39;s popularity will wane if the building freeze continues and if the financial issues aren&#39;t solved, and this will happen the longer reconciliation stagnates,&quot; he said.</p><p>With the Palestinian Authority slated to play a key role in reconstruction and monitoring the crossings with Israel and Egypt, overcoming internal divisions is crucial.</p><p>&quot;If the political and internal situation continues like this and Hamas does not find a way out, then it might decide it has no other option&quot; than war, Sharab said.</p> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:52:00 +0000 AFP 2441721 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/08/01/484151/palestinian_girl.jpg