The post-July 2006 war: A costly reminder

News Bulletin Reports
2023-10-20 | 11:42
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The post-July 2006 war: A costly reminder
The post-July 2006 war: A costly reminder

In the aftermath of the 33-day war that Israel waged on Lebanon in July 2006, the devastating toll on the nation's infrastructure, economy, and population is vividly portrayed.

By the numbers, a report from the Finance Ministry issued two months after the war estimated the losses at LBP 2.419 billion, equivalent to $1.6 billion when Lebanon's economy was relatively stable and its currency was pegged at LBP 1,500 to the dollar.

When adjusted for 2023, these losses swell to $2.44 billion, considering Lebanon's current economic crisis, national currency devaluation, and unprecedented inflation.

Do you remember the scale of the damage inflicted on Lebanon's infrastructure and its people in 2006?

Over a million Lebanese were displaced during that war from 345 villages and towns that witnessed near-total destruction. A total of 17,853 homes were completely destroyed, with 2,686 suffering partial damage. Another 109,984 residential units were affected, making the total 130,523 housing units partially or entirely destroyed during the July war.

The damage extended beyond residential units, affecting various sectors and the entire infrastructure.

One of the most critical blows was Israel's targeting of Lebanon's main aerial gateway, Beirut Airport. The airport was closed to civilians, and its airspace was only open for international aid flights. It was not until the war's conclusion on August 17, 2006, that regular air travel resumed.

Despite initial airstrikes, the land borders remained open during the war. Lebanese citizens from the South and Bekaa regions sought refuge in Syria to escape the war.

The war's impacts were extensive, with 91 major bridges, 42 ferries, and secondary bridges and 620 kilometers of roads destroyed. More than that, in the July War, Israel deliberately cut the country's ties.

In 2006, an Arab League meeting was held to support Lebanon, but currently, Lebanon does not have a President or a government. At that time, Lebanon made Arab officials cry in grief over its reality.

When the guns fell silent, the time came for reconstruction. Lebanon received support from various Arab and international donors, and the bill for reconstruction reached approximately $2.3 billion. Major contributors included:

Saudi Arabia: $590 million (deposited into the Banque du Liban)
Qatar: $300 million
Kuwait: $82 million in aid, along with $185 million for projects (a total of $267 million)
Iran: $200 million for rebuilding the southern suburbs
The United Arab Emirates: $85 million ($15 million in aid and $70 million for projects)
Oman: $50 million
Iraq: $37 million
The Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development: $10 million

Foreign contributions include:

The United States: $230 million
Spain: $25 million
Italy: $7 million, with an additional $10 million received through the United Nations and the Lebanese Recovery Fund.
Australia: $16 million
Canada: $12 million
Sweden: $10 million

Several other foreign nations also contributed, while numerous projects were financed and executed by various Arab and international organizations to rehabilitate different sectors and the infrastructure.

Even a third iteration of the Paris Conference was held, under the invitation of then-French President Jacques Chirac, to support Lebanon after the destruction wrought by the July war in a country already suffering from an economic crisis that was worsening year after year.

In Paris III, pledges of assistance for Lebanon reached a value of $7.5 billion. However, today, most of these nations have distanced themselves from Lebanon.

As the current war escalates, Lebanon has received warnings that being dragged into a war with Israel would incur a far greater cost than what it bore in July 2006, potentially turning it into a second Gaza.

Lebanon's economy and currency are in ruins, as the country is already in a state of collapse. Its only sources of income are remittances from its diaspora, and limited tourism revived in the past two years, as Lebanon lost trust in the East and West.

Given the prevailing international isolation, is there any rational belief that the nations that once stood by Lebanon in July 2006 would rush to its aid or convene conferences for its reconstruction? If it were to become a second Gaza, who would be there to help rebuild Lebanon?

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