Anger at slow Lebanon recovery

Government faces growing criticism over slow reconstruction after war.

Tammam Qansou has not received any
money from the Lebanese government

Tammam Qansou’s two children still remember where their house once stood before it was flattened by Israeli missiles.

Tammam is angry at the Lebanese government. It received hundreds of millions of dollars to repair the damage done in last year’s war and yet she still does not have a home.

“Ten days after the war was over we received $10,000 from Hezbollah,” she says. “But we still have not received one dollar from the government and it’s been nine months.”

There is similar resentment throughout the Dahiya neighbourhood in the Lebanese capital Beirut, an area that is a stronghold of Hezbollah.

Hassan Nasrallah, the group’s leader, says the government is punishing people for their loyalty to Hezbollah and trying to turn them against his party.

Public doubt

A day after Nasrallah’s comments, Fuad Siniora, the prime minister, tried to defend his government.

“There has been no delays made by the government,” he said. “One has to really understand the complications.”

Around 25,000 apartments were partially or completely destroyed in Dahiya during last year’s 34-day war with Israel that caused billions of dollars worth of damage to Lebanon’s infrastructure.

The government inspected 10,000 and approved payment for around 6,000. But so far it has only paid out for just over 1,000 homes.

Siniora says the government will do everything possible to finish the job as soon as possible but many Dahiya residents remain unconvinced by the government’s claims.

One man Al Jazeera spoke to said the government wants to humiliate him.

“Not only did he [Siniora] convince me, he provoked me,” he says.

The government’s performance does appear to be slow. It has spent $10 million in Dahiya so far whereas Hezbollah has spent $150 million.

New homes

Another local resident believes the government response has not been enough.

“Hezbollah, a political party, was able to do all its assessment in weeks. How come this government with all its institutions is still not done?” he says.

A senior Hezbollah official in charge of the reconstruction says within one month his group will start rebuilding new homes in Dahiya.

Bilal Naim promises they will be finished within a year, with or without government money.

“This proves that Hezbollah is a strong, effective civil society movement,” he says. “This government is bureaucratic, weak, dead and not only illegal but also unpopular.”

Critics have accused Hezbollah of receiving funds from Iran.

But Tammam says she has no problem with that since Iran has never attacked Lebanon. The government on the contrary has accepted money from the US, even though it provided Israel with missiles used in the war on Lebanon.

Source : Al Jazeera


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