Lebanon — January 2007

Sociopolitical Situation

The 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, known in Lebanon as the July war, was a military confrontation between the Israeli army and Hezbollah, “Party of God. ” It started on 12 July 2006 and continued until the United Nations ceasefire resolution 1701 went into effect on 14 August 2006. On 17 August, the United Nations started the deployment of a military force in South Lebanon to support the Lebanese army and to prevent future military conflicts between Israel and Hezbollah.

The war-affected regions were, in the main, South Lebanon, the Bekaa valley and the southern suburbs of Beirut, in addition to several vital bridges in the Christian areas of Metn, Kesserwan and Jbeil. The 34-day war had many humanitarian, social and economic consequences. It resulted in the deaths of 1,500 people, most of whom were civilians, and displaced around 900,000 persons from their homes and villages. In addition, the war disrupted normal life across the country and the region.

The displaced were accommodated in different centers all over Lebanon, such as schools, dispensaries and religious institutions. Municipalities, local institutions, non-governmental organizations and others rushed to help the displaced, providing them with food, water, health care and fuel as well as other basic needs (clothes, diapers, etc). Humanitarian agencies worked hand-in-hand, complementing their activities in an effort to build-up a robust emergency plan.

The damages that occurred to the residential areas varied from completely destroyed houses and buildings in the suburbs of Beirut and areas in South Lebanon near the Israeli border, to minor damages in some villages in the south and the Bekaa regions. Religious institutions (churches, mosques, convents, multi-purpose halls, schools and dispensaries) were also targeted by the shelling, leading to multiple damages and sometimes complete destruction.

The agricultural sector was subject to enormous damages, where large fields were burnt. Most of the tobacco (the main crop production in South Lebanon), which is normally harvested in July and August, was spoiled resulting in the loss of income for the season. Herds of cattle were killed, either by bombs or lack of food and water. Most of the irrigation networks were destroyed or damaged. Fields were filled with scattered cluster bombs, thus endangering the lives of the farmers.

Many establishments, such as manufacturing and trade companies, were closed, paralyzing the Lebanese economy. Foreign workers fled while a large number of Lebanese employees were dismissed or had their salaries reduced. The fleeing of tourists back to their countries affected the whole economy. Shortages in raw materials associated with high prices for goods were observed.

The postwar economic situation has not really improved. Some 256,000 persons remain internally displaced and much of South Lebanon remains uninhabitable. Data shows 95 percent of Muslim refugees have returned to their villages (despite all the damages), while some 40 to 90 percent of Christians have returned to their homes. Removing the scattered cluster bombs and unexploded bombs remains a major issue preventing villagers from returning – an estimated one million cluster bombs have been reported in all targeted areas.

The direct losses from the war were estimated at US$3.6 billion and the indirect losses add up to double that amount. Many investors have left the country seeking investment opportunities in other safer countries.

Religious Situation

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