Lebanon + 1 more

Lebanon spends $318 million on post-war rebuilding

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BEIRUT, May 7 (Reuters) - The Lebanese government has spent $318 million on rebuilding after last year's war between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said on Monday.

Figures released by Siniora at a news conference showed that Lebanon had received $707 million in reconstruction aid out of $1.3 billion pledged by donor countries, mainly Arab governments, after the end of the 34-day war last August.

The government has so far paid $181 million as compensation to the owners and tenants of homes destroyed or damaged by Israeli bombardment, the figures showed.

It has spent $54 million on infrastructure, mainly repairing damaged roads and bridges and the power and water networks. Around $42 million was spent on civilians displaced by the conflict.

Israeli air, land and sea bombardment destroyed wide areas of south Lebanon and large sectors of Beirut's southern suburbs, Hezbollah strongholds. Hezbollah rockets also inflicted material damage in several parts of northern Israel.

Some 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 158 Israelis were killed in the conflict.

Siniora is locked in a power struggle with Hezbollah which, along with its allies, wants more say in government.

The Shi'ite Muslim group, which has already spent more than $300 million on compensation and reconstruction work, accuses Siniora of dragging his feet in the rebuilding process to punish Hezbollah supporters. Hezbollah says the money it spent came as donations from religious authorities in Iran.

"Any delay, if it had occurred, was unintentional and due to the enormity of the disaster," Siniora said. "The steps that we've taken are undoubtedly ... very, very big although they remain less than what we aim for."

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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