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The Internally Displaced Persons

 
Chronology
1997/1998/1999/2000

1998

  1. January
  2. February
  3. March
  4. June
  5. July
  6. October
  7. November
  8. December
  1. August 1998

    • 6 August 98:
      The Central Fund for the Displaced has received approval to begin disbursing LL5bn every ten days until the end of the year.
      A source at the CDF called the decision "the result of the conflict between prime minister Rafik Hariri and minister of minister for the displaced Walid Jumblatt, and a victory for the displaced".
      The CDF heard that minister of state for finance Fouad Siniora had rejected a request to provide the fund with a lump sum of LL300 billion, endorsing instead a formula by which "you spend LL5 billion, you get another LL5 billion".
      The fund estimated that it could pay out the amount approximately every ten days and has been given a provisional green light to continue until the end of the year,

    • 10 August 1998:
      After the CDF spent some LL777 billion in 1997, LL75bn has been disbursed since January, with the potential for another LL75 billion by the end of the year.
      The CDF receives, for example, a list of 600 names for compensation, but only approves 200, rejecting the children of the core displaced family.
      They are trying to cut down on payments, to try and claim that they have quickly completed the return in a given area.
      A ministry source complained that the CDF was violating the custom established in a 1992 conference under which the children of the displaced are considered displaced as well and deserving of payments.
      Yet, the CDF has so far rejected the payments on the grounds that most of the applicants are not truly displaced, but recipients of promises from the ministry.

    • 14 August, 1998:
      Since June, the central fund for the Displaced has been able to boast that more than 20 villages have received payments, as it concentrates efforts in Chouf, Aley, Baabda, and upper Metn. The CDF's latest public call was to residents of Ain el Hawr, Chouf, telling them to collect their cheques.
      Two months ago the entire issue of the displaced was dominated by a fierce verbal battle between Hariri and Jumblatt, who accused each other of mismanagement, squandering and hindering the emotional issue of the return.
      After 5 years and an expenditure of more than $700 million by the CFD and other sources, only about a quarter of the displaced have returned.
      Some $4 billion-$5 billion and perhaps another decade would be required to close the file for good, leading to both

      15 August, 1998:
      It was long argued that the return of the displaced was too important to be left to the caprices of the political in-fighting between the premier and the minister for the displaced.
      A sustained, successful campaign to ensure the return of the displaced will do more for national unity than all the broadsides emanating from Baabda, bkirki, Koreytem, Ain al-Tineh and Chouf combined.
      In that vein, the confirmation by the fund's vice-president, Abdel-Hamid Nasser, a new criteria to be used in dispensing the funds available can only be good news.
      Allotting money only to know heads of households is such an obvious step, it is surprising that it has taken five years to take it. That money has been bamboozled out of the fund on the grounds that the children-including non-existent ones- were heads of different households is less a sin on their part than the fault of the administrators for allowing it in the first place.
      Another policy decision-to avoid for the time being areas which require eviction payments-does not, of course, solve the problem. It merely postpones it. Bribing squatters to leave property they illegally may have seam the only way to kick-start activity, but it set a dangerous squatting in the hope of receiving government largesse for so doing.

    • despair and outrage by the public and politicians representing areas of displacement.

    • 16 August, 1998:
      Abdel-Hamid Nasser, vice-president of the CDF said that they were making payments only to the actual heads of households and not to their children, unless they can prove that they had begun establishing a separate household when displacement occurred.
      Nasser also admitted that the CDF was avoiding all villages and towns that required eviction payments, the cause of major friction between Hariri and Jumblatt. Each has hinted that the other wildly inflated the numbers of people deserving eviction compensation in the areas of displacement under their influence-Mount Lebanon in the case of Jumblatt and Beirut in the case of Hariri.
      He said that they were principally paying for infrastructure and and reconstruction payments. He added that although sectarian considerations were not part of the current push, spending for the time being were concentrated for the mainly Christian parts of Aley and Chouf.
      Out of the original $450 million authorized by the parliament in 1993 to fund the return, Nasser said some $93m remained, which would be paid out up to the end of the year, as the government also tried to take advantage of the rest of the summer to encourage construction.

    • 17 August 1998:
      Environment minister Akram Chehayeb said that all Lebanese were looking forward to the day when the role of the ministry of the displaced ends and all the displaced return to their villages.
      Besides, he stressed that the complete return would not be achieved unless the ministry's role was made more effective, and "not by confiscating its powers".
      He expressed his hope that the return would completed before the end of Hrawi's mandate.

    • 18 August 1998:
      The Mayor of Mar Doumit, Chouf Ghassan Maroun, said that since the Taef agreement the issue of the displaced was the most important.
      He said that out of 800 applications in the town, around 90 families had received payments before this year but that some 170 had been improved to receive cheques since June.
      The Mayor of Bhamdoun, Samir Khairallah, said that people now believe again that there will be a return. There are about 200 construction sites working on some 1,500 houses at full speed. He estimated that in bhamdoun, around 25% of the displaced had already returned, mainly whose houses were not extensively damaged. But, he added that the typical sum of LL30 million to renovate a house larger than 150 metres2, in an area where architectural tradition dictates that stone should constitute the main construction material, meant that the funds provides by the CDF were simply not enough.
      There are other requirements for the return, such as infrastructure, which hasn't been completed yet in general help for hotels, which are the mainstay of the area's tourist industry.

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