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Beirut port explosion

How the army plans to distribute funds for homes damaged in the port blast

How the army plans to distribute funds for homes damaged in the port blast

The first phase of government compensation for damage caused by the blast will cover just a sixth of affected houses and a quarter of the total estimated value of the damage. (AFP/Anwar Amro)

YARZE, Baabda — Nearly three months after the Aug. 4 Beirut port explosion, the Lebanese Army is preparing to begin distributing compensation to homeowners whose houses and apartments were damaged in the blast in hopes of getting those most in need back into their homes before the winter.

However, army officials acknowledged that the amount that has initially been made available by the Lebanese government — LL100 billion — will only cover a small portion of the needed repairs.

Even homeowners who do receive funding in the first phase of distribution will not receive the full amount of damage.

Some 1.4 million square meters of glass needs to be replaced, according to the army’s assessment, as well as 116,576 doors. There was also widespread damage reported to plumbing and electrical systems, tiles, bricks and furniture.

“The amount of LL100 billion, of course, will not be enough to cover everything — it is a beginning,” army spokesperson Col. Elias Aad said at a press conference Friday. “Once more funding comes in, we will continue to distribute to all of the damaged housing units.”

The funding for the current phase does not come from international aid, officials said, but directly from the Lebanese government. The funds were released by the Ministry of Finance to the Higher Relief Committee, and then transferred to the army to distribute.

Aad said the amount will initially cover compensation for 10,274 housing units, just 16.5 percent of a total of 62,087 that were assessed as being damaged, with hopes of expanding the number in a second phase if funding is available. In financial terms, it will cover just under a quarter of the LL427.6 billion in damage.

The distribution, which is set to begin Monday, will begin with smaller and more modest housing units rather than those rated as “deluxe” or historic, and will begin in the areas closest to the explosion site. The amount of compensation awarded to each property owner will depend on the assessed cost of the damage.

According to the compensation schedule published by the army, the amount to be distributed will range from LL300,000 for those with damage assessed up to LL499,999, to a maximum of LL20 million for units with damage assessed at LL200 million and above. The amount increases in steps for each bracket in between, except for the LL1-19.99 million damage bracket, in which owners will receive 60 percent of the value of the damage.

The army will announce where each day’s distribution will take place the day before in the media and on its website, and will call homeowners slated to receive the aid to inform them beforehand. To collect the compensation, each homeowner should bring a photocopy of their identification and will be required to sign a contract agreeing to conduct the needed repairs.

For those who have already paid for repairs, Aad said, “Once we go down on the ground, we are going to know who fixed his house. If someone paid out of his own pocket to fix his house, of course he will get compensation.”

While some NGOs have already been working to replace broken windows and doors and make other repairs in the damaged houses using donated funds, this will be the first official distribution of aid for repairs from the Lebanese government.

A recent post-explosion assessment by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs noted that an appeal launched by the UN aimed at raising $354.9 million in international aid for blast relief and recovery efforts was less than 29 percent funded as of Oct. 15, at $101.6 million.

OCHA noted that 7,500 weatherproofing kits had been distributed in August and September, but that a large gap remains in the medium-term shelter programs, which are providing assistance with minor repairs and rehabilitation as well as rent assistance to those displaced by the blast. But with winter approaching, the report noted, about 95 percent of the medium-term shelter needs have yet to be met.


Omar Tamo contributed to this report.


YARZE, Baabda — Nearly three months after the Aug. 4 Beirut port explosion, the Lebanese Army is preparing to begin distributing compensation to homeowners whose houses and apartments were damaged in the blast in hopes of getting those most in need back into their homes before the winter.

However, army officials acknowledged that the amount that has initially been made available by...