SIDON, Lebanon: A month and a half after intense clashes in a Sidon suburb left hundreds of buildings damaged, the Higher Relief Commission has begun distributing compensation to displaced residents of the city’s Abra and Taamir neighborhoods. The HRC began Monday the distribution of checks covering between three and five months’ rent to families whose homes were damaged so badly in the security incidents that they are no longer fit for habitation.
The checks were distributed by officials of the Sidon Municipal Council under the supervision of HRC operation coordinator Ismael Baghadadi and Ali al-Hajj, an official from Khatib al-Alami, the construction company responsible for carrying out the repairs.
“In line with the instructions from the head of the HRC, Brig. Gen. Bashir Ibrahim, the commission started today paying compensations to the people whose houses were damaged in Abra and Taamir,” Hajj said.
“As for the rest of the affected people, the commission has concluded its survey of the damages to their buildings and houses with the cooperation of Lebanese Army units and they are being prepared to be paid later, but they will be paid as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, the reconstruction of damaged facades in Abra is now approximately 80 percent complete, as are minor interior renovations.
The repairs were financed by the Genico Company through a donation from former Prime Minister Saad Hariri with the cooperation of the Joy of Giving organization and a campaign called Together we Heal the Wounds. There was also an initiative by the Lebanese-Palestinian Business Forum to participate in the renovation works.
Rafik Shafi, Genico’s project manager for the reconstruction works in Abra, said: “In line with [former] Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s initiative we started to renovate the facades of the buildings. We have completed approximately 80 percent of the work, and what remains are the major reconstruction works on buildings that were severely damaged, like the Indian exhibition building.
“There’s also a building in which we had to remove badly damaged ceilings and reconstruct them again. Work on these should be concluded within a month,” he said.
“We have also several buildings which were slightly damaged by bullets and shrapnel, and these are located outside the region which we are working on right now, but we will also renovate these buildings in due course,” he added.
During Eid al-Fitr, dozens of Abra’s families returned to newly renovated homes that had incurred lighter damages. The majority of families from area remain displaced, however, as they await the completion of reconstruction work.
In June, fighting broke out between supporters of firebrand Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir and the Lebanese Army in the Abra district following an attack by the former on a military checkpoint. The clashes, which lasted two days, left dozens, including some 19 soldiers, dead and many more wounded.