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Who Is Rebuilding Lebanon: An Update

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By John E. Carey
Friday, August 18, 2006

Thankfully, the shooting, bloodshed and death have stopped in Lebanon and Israel. At least for now.

What to do about the tremendous damage is now the order of the day.

Hezbollah bulldozers, fueld by Iranian money, already work feaverishly to clean up debris and move in new building supplies.

Hezbollah is also doing hundreds of little things to assist the displaced and now homeless population of southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah loans cell phones so civilians can call relatives that they are OK. Hezbollah loans (or just gives away) money ┬ľ US dollars are the preferred currency-so people can buy food. Food, bottled water and other essential supplies are distributed by Hezbollah.

The US is here too, in the form of the Agency for International Development (AID). And Americans are plentiful among the relief agencies and other Non-Government Organizations (NGOs).

But the US effort to rebuild Lebanon appears to most observers to seriously lag behind the efforts of Hezbollah.

"I've said we have got to get with this. These guys (Hizbollah) are out there with their own bulldozers and what are we doing? It takes forever for us to start up rebuilding projects," said a U.S. senior official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The United States pledged $50 million so far for humanitarian aid in Lebanon. Half of that money has been handed out to aid groups and NGOs working in the conflict zone.

A senior U.S. official warned that it was unclear how much Washington would contribute to the overall rebuilding effort.

A UN donors conference on humanitarian aid is planned for August 31 in Stockholm and a later one may be held to deal more directly with repairing Lebanon's wrecked and broken infrastructure.

Bridges, roads, electric switching stations, gas stations and other needed facilities took a pounding in the conflict.
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John E. Carey is the former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.
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