Delegation of the European Commission to the Republic of Lebanon





27 JUL y 2000 - BEIRUT





I would like to thank the Lebanese Government, especially H.E. the Prime Minister, Dr. Salim al Hoss, for taking the initiative in convening this Donors' Conference, which allows donors to reaffirm their support to the reconstruction of South Lebanon. It also constitutes a coordinating forum for international assistance to this region.


The European Union has always emphasised the importance of implementing Security Council Resolution 425. It has expressed the hope that the Israeli withdrawal will facilitate reconciliation, as well as the rehabilitation of South Lebanon, to which it is strongly committed.


We are aware of the huge efforts needed in the re-integration of the liberated region back into the country and we have reacted very quickly to the new situation brought on by the Israeli withdrawal. In this respect, we have already identified the needs of the region. A number of missions by European Commission experts have taken place, the first one a few days after the withdrawal. These experts, who have been to the South, have also met with the Lebanese authorities in order to coordinate assistance efforts.


The European Union ranks first in the league of donors to Lebanon, allocating more than half of all grants since 1992. Our financial assistance has significantly increased since 1995, date of the conclusion of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership in which Lebanon holds a place of primary importance.


In the context, the European Union is currently implementing a number of projects in South Lebanon, namely the reconstruction of public schools, three located in the previously occupied region and two others in the Jezzine region. Nine other projects are also being implemented in the sectors of health, assistance to the return of the displaced, reactivation of the local economy, environment, and assistance to underprivileged children. The total of this committed assistance is 1 O million euros. In addition, the European Union is currently developing an Economic and Social Development Fund with the Lebanese Government. This programme's objectives are to improve basic social services, create new jobs, give out micro-loans and reduce the gap between rural and urban areas. 25 million euros have been earmarked for this programme.


I take this opportunity to announce that five new emergency projects for South Lebanon have been approved by the European Union, for a total of 1.2 million euros. The first project ensures the psycho-social assistance to victims of conflict, and the second aims to assist the population through a network of care centres. The third project will supply equipped ambulances, and the fourth will provide medicines and basic consumer products through the UNIFIL care centres and the Ministries of Social Affairs and Health. The fifth project will come to the assistance of farmers, weakened by the years of conflict. These actions constitute the first phase of the European Union's emergency assistance.


Moreover, the region of South Lebanon could benefit from other major programmes also financed by the European Union, such as the Assistance to the Rehabilitation of the Lebanese Administration and the Investment Planning Programme.


We are all aware of the immediate humanitarian needs of South Lebanon, however, we should also take into account the necessity to intervene in other important sectors, such as infrastructure and socio-economic development.


The European Union has always made the distinction between emergency aid and development aid, in terms of its overall assistance.


The re-establishment of state authority in South Lebanon will certainly lead to the implementation of infrastructure and socio-economic development projects on a longer term.


The studies prepared by the United Nations Development Programme and the Council for Development and Reconstruction are important and useful tools that will allow us to further focus our assistance on the development and reconstruction of South Lebanon.


Implementing this assistance requires close cooperation on our part with the Lebanese Government and the international donors. This is why we attach great importance to the discussions that will be held during the third session, as they will cover the coordinating mechanisms between donors, and the mechanism that the Lebanese Government will put in place in order to coordinate international assistance.