Tens of thousands of people have returned to villages in eastern and southern Lebanon as well as Beirut's southern suburbs to find their homes either damaged or totally destroyed by the fighting between Hezbollah and Israel.

Hundreds of people visited a registration centre set up in a Beirut secondary school on Wednesday to report the damage to their homes.

Salim Kenaan went into one of the rooms at the Haret Hreik Public High School and gave his name, address and telephone number to a Hezbollah official.

"We will contact you soon," the Hezbollah member who took the information told Kenaan.

"My house was totally destroyed. After I heard Sheikh Nasrallah's speech, I started looking for an apartment," Kanaan said.

Nasrallah's promise

Hours after the ceasefire began on Monday, the leader of the Shia Muslim group, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, appeared on television and promised to help Lebanese civilians rebuild, pledging money for civilians to pay rent and buy furniture.

Lebanese have been returning to
their devastated homes  

Nasrallah did not say where the money would come from, but Iran has been the group's primary source of finance and weapons in the past. Hezbollah already operates many charity and social welfare programmes in Lebanon which are believed to be financed by Iran.

Nasrallah said that 15,000 housing units had been hit during the war.

The rebuilding programme could further boost Hezbollah's standing after it declared victory over Israel.

Tyre devastated

In the southern city of Tyre, Nabil Kaouk, Hezbollah's commander in south Lebanon, also promised on Wednesday to rebuild the devastated region and compensate those whose homes had been destroyed.

"We want to bring south Lebanon back to its real life and to rebuild it better than it was before the war," the cleric said as he stood in front of the demolished building that used to house his office before it was destroyed in the fighting.

Hundreds of workers were in the streets of Dahiyeh on Wednesday, clearing streets and removing rubble. Some areas were closed by Hezbollah members to protect the building from theft and only residents were allowed to enter after getting special passes.