30 October 2006 U.S. Assistance Spurring Economic Growth in Lebanon, October 27, 2006
($90 million spent so far; major bridge scheduled to be repaired)
By Kathryn McConnell
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- The United States has moved aggressively to provide substantial support for Lebanon's recovery from recent conflict and economic growth in the country, a State Department official says.
The $90 million spent so far shows that the United States is taking "immediate action" on its $230 million aid commitment made in August, Randal Tobias, U.S. director of foreign assistance, said October 27 in Beirut, Lebanon. (See related article.)
"The strong commitment of the United States to the people of Lebanon is embodied in the partnership between the governments of our two diverse and democratic countries," he said.
Reconstruction will begin soon on the war-damaged Mudeirej Bridge near Zahale (Zahaleh), one of the tallest bridges in the Middle East, according to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
The bridge's reconstruction will restore a vital commercial link to the agriculturally rich Békaa Valley and to neighboring countries, stimulating trade essential for Lebanon's financial recovery, the embassy said in a press release.
The United States also is supporting war-related cleanup efforts, including that of an oil spill, which damaged the coastal area between Byblos and Beirut. Cleanup efforts will contribute to revitalizing Lebanon's tourism and fishing industries, Tobias said.
Initial U.S. funding has helped provide emergency relief supplies and services, and support food security, agricultural development and war trauma recovery activities, such as purchasing recreational equipment that can help in children's emotional recovery, Tobias said.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has contributed more than $41 million to various nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) for food and relief supply distribution and other activities. The U.S.-supported NGOs also are providing transitional housing; water, sanitation and health care services; help in infrastructure reconstruction; and support for income-generation, vocational training and land mine removal programs.
In addition, USDAID has provided approximately $14.5 million to U.N. agencies for relief and recovery supplies and services and $13.5 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross for food, health and water and sanitation services.
The U.S. State and Defense departments together are providing approximately $3.3 million for removal of land mines and unexploded ordnance clearance.
Tobias also is administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The full text of his prepared remarks and an October 27 Lebanon situation report are available on the USAID Web site.
The full text of the press release is available on the Web site of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
For additional information, see Lebanon Assistance.