WRUR 88.5 Different Radio

Nada Homsi

Khaled Taleb steps out of his vehicle high on a mountainside in northern Lebanon, and surveys the charred remains of the cedar forest he fought to save. A black carpet of the trees' burned needles crunches underfoot.

Armed with only gardening tools and cloth masks, Taleb and four friends spent the night of Aug. 23 on this mountainside battling a wildfire that swept up from the valley and engulfed this high-altitude woodland of cedars and juniper trees.

In mid-September, a small fishing boat packed with 37 people was found drifting off the coast of Lebanon in the Mediterranean Sea. The passengers, all trying to reach Cyprus for a better life, had paid nearly $1,000 each and were on the boat for eight days without sufficient food and water. By the time rescuers, members of a U.N. peacekeeping mission, were able to reach them, at least 13 of the four dozen or so passengers — including two children — had been lost at sea or were dead.