Lebanon gets billions in reconstruction pledges

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Lebanon gets billions in reconstruction pledges

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Away from the turmoil in Lebanon world leaders discussed a reconstruction package worth close to six billion euros to the country. The offers were made at an international donors’ conference in Paris involving around 40 nations. In addition to the costs of rebuilding after last summer’s war between Hizbollah and Israel, Lebanon is weighed down by 30 billion euros of debt. That is equivalent to 180 percent of gross domestic product.

Lebanese premier, Fouad Siniora, described the conference as an “expression of faith in the Lebanese people.” But he also made an appeal to them to end the current unrest. The country’s efforts to rebuild after its 1975-1990 civil war suffered an enormous setback in last year’s conflict that shattered the country’s fragile infrastructure and displaced many thousands.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the international community was expressing its support for Lebanon’s right to exist as a democratic state. Hizbollah and domestic opponents of Siniora’s government claim the aid will be used to shore up the western-backed government.