Thursday, August 31, 2006

Pledges roll in...

Estimates of the cost of damages inflicted by Israel in its over-the-top, arguably vindictive war on Lebanon naturally vary widely. The working figure seems to be $3.5 billion, although the Ministry of Public Works has used a much larger number, $6 billion, which some observers suspect may reflect inflation for corruption. In any case, the pledges of nearly $2 billion from Arab and European donors, as well as the United States, begin to approach the scale of funding that the government will need. What remains to be seen is how much more the Stockholm donor's conference produces.
Two simple problems remain: there is a robust record of pledges to assist Lebanon stretching back decades, just as there is a long record of unfulfilled pledges. Also, while the donors are pledging, the government promising, Hezbollah is delivering.
So which benefactor do you think will be remembered?

Lebanon Offers Aid for Rebuilding: "The European Commission said Wednesday that it would add about $53 million to its pledge of $64 million for emergency relief and to assist Lebanese businesses. Kuwait has pledged $800 million, Saudi Arabia $500 million and the Bush administration has promised to earmark $230 million in aid to Lebanon.

The Lebanese government's compensation plan comes amid domestic and regional criticism for what some say has been a slow response to the needs of the people, and three days after Hezbollah's leader, Hasan Nasrallah, suggested that the government was not meeting the expectations of the Shiite Muslim community."

Update: pledges from Stockholm.

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