Intervention of the representative of Italy
Chargé D'Affaires - Mr. Diego Brasioli
Donors' Meeting for South Lebanon Beirut, July 27th 2000
It is with great pleasure that Italy accepted the invitation to participate to this Donors' Meeting focused on the Emergency assistance for South Lebanon.
Italy has always maintained very strong and fruitful ties of friendship and collaboration with Lebanon, and we have always been very close to this Country, also during the darkest and most difficult years.
By participating to this meeting, Italy intends to underline and reaffirm its own attention towards this Country, close to our heart, particularly now that it can exercise its own sovereignty over the whole national territory.
We are confident that the full application of the UN Resolution 425 will allow now to start the reconstruction process of South Lebanon thus contributing to the establishment of peace and stability in the region.
Italy has been one of the first Countries to offer assistance for the reconstruction process started by Lebanon at the end of the civil war. We have committed ourselves in the highly priority sectors of the Country, where we have been able to supply the necessary technical and financial support.
The profitable dialogue between our two governments has allowed to elaborate an appropriate relief program, in order to support the economic reforms that are in course and to contribute to the creation of favorable conditions for a sustainable development and protection of the environmental resources.
We have concentrated the Italian assistance, in agreement with the Lebanese Authorities, in crucial sectors such as water, energy, environment and agriculture. Italy is the first donor Country in Lebanon, with a commitment of around 140 million dollars, and also its first commercial partner.
The Italian Government will continue its commitment in favor of the development of Lebanon also in future.
The Israeli withdrawal has set Lebanon, after long years of military occupation and deep sufferings for the civil population, in a crucial phase of its development process. The Government of Lebanon shall count on the assistance of the international community but, in the meantime, will have to assume its own responsibility, through appropriate action.
The Italian Government intends to support this action by continuing and ensuring to the Lebanese population the necessary assistance.
We are sure that the new peaceful climate will bear reliable results for development and progress and to this respect we are proud to say that.
In forecast of the Israeli withdrawal, Italy has launched already last year a plan for the South of Lebanon. Through a series of projects in the socio-humanitarian, cultural and economic sectors, which will be implemented not only on Governmental level, but also by NGOs, this plan aims at encouraging reconciliation, solidarity and reconstruction of a region which has become a symbol of sufferings of a cruel conflict.
Italy is already active in the water sector, with a program amounting to 25 million dollars, for the wastewater treatment of the high course of the Litani River.
We are also particularly active in the de-mining sector, and we have recently offered to the Lebanese army five highly sophisticated machines for the localization of the mines in the South.
In the health sector, in co-operation with the Lebanese Ministry of Health, we are engaged in the rehabilitation and strengthening of the Khiam dispensary.
Since some time, Italy is taking care of medical interventions in favor of former detainees of the Khiam prison, and we shall continue in this humanitarian field for the psychological rehabilitation of the prisoners.
Lastly, Italy is providing an emergency food assistance amounting to 2 billion Italian Liras (around 2.000 tons of rice and 350 tons of sunflower oil) which will be monetized by the Lebanese Government for the implementation of small infrastructure works (mainly in the irrigation sector), jointly agreed by the two Governments.
Italy is looking with great interest to the present meeting and hopes that it will give useful indications about the convening of a Donor's Conference for the reconstruction of South Lebanon when all the elements for it to be a success will be gathered.