SIDON, Lebanon: Families affected by June’s clashes in Sidon flocked to the municipality Tuesday to receive the final installments of compensation packages doled out by the Higher Relief Council.
Some 1,500 individuals and families saw their homes, businesses or properties damaged in fierce clashes between firebrand preacher Sheikh Ahmad Assir and the Lebanese Army.
The distribution of the final installment of payments in Sidon coincided with a report by the National News Agency that the HRC would also be distributing compensation funds to individuals affected by the twin bombings in Tripoli last Friday.
The bombs, which targeted the Al-Taqwa and Al-Salam mosques, killed 47 people and caused extensive property damage, although a detailed survey of the material losses has yet to be carried out.
The Sidon neighborhoods of Abra and Taamir bore the brunt of the fighting, which raged over two days and saw most of Assir’s complex destroyed. The nearby Palestinian camp of Ain al-Hilweh was also affected.
The funds were distributed in the form of bank checks. The amounts varied depending on the type and extent of the property damage, which was determined by special teams from the HRC, according to Hasan Shaaban, a representative of the HRC.
“These committees went down to the affected area and carried out a final inspection of the damage before submitting their reports to the HRC and now we are paying those who were affected, under the direction, of course, of the general-secretary of the HRC,” he said.
The municipality, under the authority of the HRC, began distributing compensation funds earlier this month and are expected to finish in the coming days.
For his part, Mohammad al-Saudi, the mayor of Sidon, praised the swiftness with which the HRC processed the compensations, as well as the speedy pace of reconstruction.
“MP Bahia Hariri made tremendous efforts, as did former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora,” said Saudi. “Were it not for the intervention of Ms. Bahia, I think we would not have even begun the reconstruction at this point, nor would the compensation have been paid out so quickly, so I would like to extend a special thanks to her.”
Much of the reconstruction on the facades of buildings is being undertaken by the company Genico, which is owned by Bahia’s brother Shafik Hariri, thanks to a donation from former Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Other organizations pitching in include the Joy of Giving association, the Lebanese-Palestinian Business Forum and several local popular committees.
Mayor Saudi expressed thanks for the efforts of all parties and groups contributing to the reconstruction effort, noting that nonstructural repairs to the facades of lightly damaged buildings are already 75 percent complete.
The mayor went on to say that the HRC, in coordination with the municipality, would continue to distribute checks over the coming days, emphasizing the importance of timely compensation in light of ongoing repairs.
He also noted that a large number of displaced families had already moved back into their homes in Abra.