JEDDAH, 17 August 2006 — Interior Minister Prince Naif, who is general supervisor of the Saudi Popular Committee for the Relief of Lebanon, yesterday ordered supplies worth SR25 million to meet the needs of Lebanese people who were forced to leave their homes as a result of the Israeli military campaign.
Saaed Al-Harithy, chairman of the committee, told the Saudi Press Agency that his organization would supply essential commodities such as foodstuffs among the Lebanese families who fled their heavily damaged neighborhoods and are now holed up in homes, schools and municipal buildings.
"We will distribute these relief supplies in coordination with Lebanese authorities," he said, adding that the committee would continue its humanitarian programs for the people of Lebanon until they overcome their difficulties.
According to Lebanese government estimates, more than 900,000 people have fled their homes in the month-long Israeli aggression against Lebanon.
"Every family has taken on at least three additional families. So what used to be a household of eight is now a household of 40. And essentially a town of 5,000 people is now trying to accommodate 40,000," one aid worker said.
"So you see people using every inch of space, literally spilling out onto the streets from houses, mosques, schools and churches. As many as 30 people are living in a room in some places," said Mercy Corps' Cassandra Nelson.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah announced a massive aid package last month to help Lebanon cope with the devastating Israeli military campaign, launched on July 12, which has killed hundreds and smashed the country's infrastructure.
The king pledged a 500 million grant for the reconstruction of Lebanon. He also promised to deposit 1 billion in the Central Bank of Lebanon to help stabilize the country's currency.
For the past two weeks, the Kingdom has been sending emergency relief supplies worth in excess of SR21.37 million to the Lebanese people.
"The committee has begun its relief program for the Lebanese people by sending emergency supplies such as food, medical supplies, water bottles, blankets and sheets and meeting the needs of children in cooperation with Lebanese and international organizations," said Al-Harithy.
Saudi contractors are to meet in Riyadh next month to forge alliances for the rebuilding of houses and infrastructure in south Lebanon where month-long Israeli bombardment has flattened most of the country's infrastructure and housing facilities.
Abdullah Al-Ammar, chairman of the National Committee for Contractors, said the Riyadh meeting would study what contributions Saudi contractors could make to rebuild the war-torn country.
Saudi businessmen expect that they would get a good share of construction contracts worth nearly 3 billion (SR11.25 billion).
"Saudi contractors are capable of completing the projects as quickly as possible," said a member of the contractors' committee at the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Al-Ammar denied reports that prices of building products including cement and iron had gone up as a result of the war. "This is not at all true. The prices are stable and are monitored by the Commerce Ministry," he added.