BEIRUT: The Higher Relief Committee announced Friday that it will pay monthly compensation to all families who were made homeless by extreme weather and flooding earlier this week.
Also, a second death was reported due to the cold weather, as Social Affairs Minister Wael Abu Faour said his ministry has provided shelter to many homeless people in the past year and is ready to help others in similar cases.
In the wake of criticism of government inaction in the face of the dayslong bout of heavy snow, flooding and plunging temperatures, a delegation led by government ministers visited the Beirut southern suburb of Hay al-Sellom to inspect damage.
The Cabinet this week approved LL3 billion to the HRC earlier this week as compensation for the victims, although the sum included payments to victims of civil strife in Tripoli and a bomb attack in Ashrafieh last year that killed Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan.
In a joint news conference in Hay al-Sellom with Agriculture Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan, the HRC’s secretary-general, Ibrahim Bashir, said all families who were made homeless by the flooding would receive a monthly payment of $500 as they await repairs.
“Based on the orders of the Prime Minister Najib Mikati, we have agreed with the army to prepare a list of family names that are in need of shelter,” said Bashir. “As of tomorrow morning, we will start paying $500 compensation for housing for individual families.”
They were joined by a number of MPs, Health Minister Ali Hasan Khalil and Transportation and Public Works Minister Ghazi Aridi.
The Ghazir River burst into the poorly developed Hay al-Sellom Tuesday and caused severe flooding in dozens of houses.
Hezbollah and Amal Movement MPs and local municipality officers joined the officials in their tour of the area, during which Khalil called for speedy intervention by the government to help rehabilitate the neighborhood.
“We are facing a real disaster; there are families and homes that are abandoned,” Khalil told reporters.
“This is why we need to speed up the measures that we agreed upon to provide shelter to the people as fast as we can.”
Khalil said that a $25 billion infrastructure development project for the area was awaiting Cabinet approval.
Meanwhile, Social Affairs Minister Abu Faour responded to the death of a homeless man near the American University of Beirut this week due to the extreme weather.
Abu Faour reminded the public of the 1714 hotline to report humanitarian distress cases and said he had been alerted to the situation of Ali Abdullah, who was mourned earlier this week by AUB students.
Abu Faour said he had personally visited the AUB campus area several times but was unable to locate the whereabouts of Abdullah, whose funeral took place Friday.
The National News Agency said that Syrian national Mohammad Ibrahim al-Fadl, a bedouin, succumbed to the extreme cold weather in the city of Baalbek.
CDR responds to flooding claims
The Council for Development and Reconstruction responded Friday to an article published in The Daily Star a day earlier entitled “A Perfect Storm of Mismanagement and Corruption.”
The piece quoted a local official from the town of Barr Elias in the Bekaa claiming that the unfinished Arab Highway, a CDR project, contributed to recent flooding in the area.
In a faxed statement to The Daily Star, the CDR said the affected area near the Palestinian Crescent Hospital lay outside the scope of the highway, and that the flooding was caused by blocked sewers, which are not the responsibility of the CDR.