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French Version

Siniora sets compensation for Dahiyeh homeowners at $53,000 each

Payment applies only to fully owned properties destroyed in war

The government will pay LL80 million ($53,000) to each homeowner whose property was destroyed by the Israelis this summer in the capital's southern suburbs, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said over the weekend.

"The payment will be made in two installments and will be paid directly to the owner of the home once he submits the proper papers," Siniora told a press conference.

Siniora last month announced that the government would pay homeowners whose properties were destroyed elsewhere in Lebanon LL50 million each plus LL10 million for furniture costs ($40,000 total).

The prime minister said that the LL80 million for homeowners in the southern suburbs will cover furniture. The government has made a complete survey of residences destroyed in the suburbs, he said.

Officials say that more than 220 buildings in the southern suburbs were totally destroyed and another 200 were partially damaged. The suburbs, which before the July-August Israeli bombardment of Lebanon were home to at least 500,000 mainly Shiite residents, were the site of many Hizbullah-related structures targeted by Israel in its attacks.

The Council for Development and Reconstruction has estimated the total direct cost of the war at $3.6 billion.

In addition to approximately 30,000 houses, dozens of bridges, schools and hospitals in different parts of the country were left in total ruin.

At the August 31 Stockholm international donor conference, $940 million was promised to Lebanon in the forms of grants and soft loans from several countries.

But the prime minister admitted that the pledged funds for reconstruction may not be sufficient to meet all the needs of people who lost their homes.

Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iran have pledged to rebuild many villages in the South and the Bekaa valley.

Qatar has already begun distributing checks to the owners of homes that were destroyed in four villages in the South.

Beginning soon after the cessation of hostilities on August 14, Hizbullah handed out $12,000 to many families that lost homes in southern villages and in the southern suburbs.

The money was meant to pay rent on new apartments for one year, until repairs are complete.

"From the first day of the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, the government said it plans to take full responsibility for the reconstruction of all houses destroyed," Siniora said. "But I should be honest with you. Despite all the aid we received and made available to us, the money we have will not be enough to cover all the damages."

Siniora said the government will compensate only residents who have deeds for their properties. Residents still financing the purchase of their homes will not be covered fully by the new government grants, he said.

"But we will enable the citizens who are financing their houses from banks to benefits from the soft loans from the Public Housing Institution," he said.

Beirut 16-10-2006
The Daily Star

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