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The Internally Displaced Persons



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  1. February 1998

    • 3 Feb 98:
      The opinion of local residents is paramount in selecting municipal councils, Walid Jumblatt said as he toured villages in the lower Chouf to campaign for brisk participation in local election in spring
      Residents conveyed him their fears that the government would continue ignoring the need to develop the infrastructure of their towns and called for more support for farmers in the lower Chouf.

    • 4 Feb 98:
      Until all the displaced are able to return to their homes, the will be no genuine national unity, Batroun MP Boutros Harb said.
      Failure to include the issue in 1998 budget plans indicated the government's neglect, he said, and could have been an attempt to hide the true deficit.

    • 5Feb 98:
      $4 billion sought from cellular phone companies to fund the return process.
      The LL 150 billion Baalbek-Hermel development plan endorsed by the government last summer will top the cabinet's agenda in its first meeting since the 1998 budget was passed ten days ago.
      Berri has previously suggested that the contracts between cellular phone companies and the government, originally for the period of ten years be extended for an additional 18 years on the conditions that Cellis and Libancell each pay the government $2 billion in advance. This sum would be used to finance both the salary increase and the return of the displaced.

      9 Feb 98:
      Jumblatt blasted Hariri's proposal to spend LL 991 billion on development in underprivileged areas terming it an opportunity for "bribery" and conflict between regions over funding.

    • 13 Feb 98:
      In an attempt to find revenues to speed up the return of the displaced, MPs and the government have begun negotiations aimed at encouraging private banks to contribute.
      According to the new proposal, private banks would allocate part of their deposits placed in the central bank with no interest rate, to finance the return of the displaced without endangering the monetary situation.
      This way, no cash flow problem would occur as only part of the deposits would be used.
      Moreover, the interest rate to be paid on the amount used to finance the return would not exceed 5 to 6%.
      At present, more than $700 million has been spent for the return of the displaced and the equivalent, at least, is still needed to complete the national issue. Only 20% of the return process has been achieved and accusations of squandering against the National Fund for the Displaced are still mounting.
      A recent conflict between Jumblatt and Hariri over the lack of money for the return intensified, especially since no funds were allocated in the budget.

      18 Feb 98:
      From a modest center in Sidon in 1973, Caritas has expended to include 317 centers throughout the country where close to 3000 volunteers work to revive Christ's message.
      Caritas also addresses humanitarian issues, such as the return of people displaced during the war years. They have helped 15000 return since end of the conflict.

    • 19 Feb 98:
      Phalange party chief Georges Saadé said the return of the displaced could occur only when they felt there was true national reconciliation.
      The issue does not depend on a political decision or on funds but can be resolved when the displaced feel that they fate is secure.

    • 23 Feb 98:
      Families forced to use ropes and ladders because of the decrepit state of their building in Beirut's suburbs have appealed to the authorities to help them somewhere else to live before it collapses.
      The 24 families claim the Rahmé building in Al Tariq el Jdidé was so badly damaged during the 1982 Israeli invasion that is imminent danger of collapse and have appealed for funds to help resettle them.
      They called on the National Fund for the Displaced to come to their aid as 22 of the families were made homeless during the war.

    • 24 Feb 98:
      The return of Christian war-displaced to villages in the Chouf was cited by Maronite Patriarch as a crucial precondition for national coexistence.

    • 25 Feb 98:
      With prime minister's consultations on the socio-economic crisis in full swing, interior minister Michel Murr declared that a return of the displaced would take five years to complete.
      He spoke on ways to finance a LL 150 billion rural development plan, proposed salary scales as well as the issue of the displaced.

    • 26 Feb 98: Jumblatt responded to a request by the prime minister for a plan to complete the return of the displaced with a curt reminder that the government already had the information.

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