Long-term, a massive aid plan still needs to be defined for Lebanon. It is its short-term needs that have been tackled in Thursday’s conference in Sweden, with Europe’s contribution coming under the spotlight. It could be digging deeper into its pockets, according to Lebanese economics and financial consultant Dr Louis G. Hobeika.
“I don’t think the EU is giving enough,” he said. “You know, we talk about 40 million dollars. It is not really such a huge amount for Europe which is, which has the size of the United States in economics. “I am sure Europe can do much more. However, we should not forget that Europe is already filling up UNIFIL 2 and Europe is doing lots of other things.”
Such things include reconstruction work. It is estimated that 900 factories, farms, markets and other commercial bulidings have been damaged or destroyed as well as hundreds of kilometres of road and dozens of bridges – not to mention facilities such as power stations and water treatment plants.
Lebanon’s Infrastructure Minister Mohammad Safadi is clear about how he wants help to be given. “We are pushing very hard to say ‘please, we’d like your donation to be in kind rather than in cash,’ so that they are assured directly. It is up to them to pick what they want to rebuild.” Some 130,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed. But, as international donors act, a more rapid aid provider has already stepped in. Sizeable payments by Hizbollah to those who lost their homes were handed out shortly after the truce.