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Report on the Lebanese Relief Program


24 October 2006

I. The Consequences of the July – August 2006 War

The July War between Israel and Hezbollah that began on 12 July and ended 14 August claimed more than 1,500 lives, displaced about 900,000 Lebanese and devastated South Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley and the southern suburbs of Beirut.

Due to the diversity of sources and errors that occurred in counting the victims, there are no exact figures concerning the number of killed, wounded and displaced. According to Lebanese security officials, 800 Lebanese were killed and 3,135 wounded.

Lebanon’s displaced families started to return to their villages on 15 August, immediately after the ceasefire. About 95 percent of the returnees are Muslim, while 40 to 90 percent of those still displaced are Christian. The effects of the war on Lebanon, which has been struggling with economic, political and sectarian issues for years, will be long-standing.

The war affected the following sectors of Lebanon’s economy and society: infrastructure, housing, agriculture, environment and business.

  • Infrastructure: Billions of dollars of damages were suffered as a result of Israeli air strikes and artillery fire. The attacks targeted bridges, roads, electricity cables, telephone lines, water pipes and the Beirut International Airport.

  • Housing: Thousands of homes were destroyed or damaged. The greatest destruction was seen in the southern, mainly Shiite, suburbs of Beirut, where about 200 buildings were demolished. Thousands of homes in South Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley also were destroyed. Christian neighbourhoods were rarely targeted, but suffered damage when Israeli soldiers searched them for Hezbollah fighters. The Lebanese government promised $40,000 to each family who had lost a home. Hezbollah has also provided $12,000 to each Muslim family who lost a home. But winter is approaching, and many families do not have adequate shelter or fuel for heating.

  • Agriculture: Trees and crops were burned, or left to rot. During the war, tending to many farms in Lebanon, particularly in the South and Bekaa Valley, was impossible. Moreover, unexploded cluster bombs still litter fields. Farmers have burned their fields in an effort to destroy the bombs.

  • Environment: When the Israelis bombed the Jiyeh power plant, oil spilled out into the sea, causing significant environmental damage. Water sources used for irrigation have also been contaminated. Israel also employed white phosphorous munitions, which create poisonous air pollution.

  • Business: The war brought Lebanon’s economy to a standstill. Israel imposed an air and naval blockade, prohibiting most goods and people from leaving or entering Lebanon. Manufacturing plants, factories, gas stations and other major businesses were hurt. Foreign workers also fled the country. Hundreds of employees were laid off and others saw their salaries reduced. The tourism sector, reliant on the summer season, also was hit hard.

II. CNEWA - Pontifical Mission Intervention

After the outbreak of war, CNEWA-Pontifical Mission immediately launched a relief program to support displaced families, both Christians and Muslims. CNEWA-Pontifical Mission coordinated its activities with other relief agencies, local officials and the Lebanese government’s High Relief Committee. Local churches played a key roll. For example, the Maronite Archbishopric of Antelias provided a warehouse for storing food, clothing and other relief supplies. (Father Simon Faddoul played a crucial role in this.)

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