August 31, 2006

Southern Suburbs; Picking through the Rubble

This was the ‘most-blogged-about-war’ they say. The 43 days of fighting caused many Lebanese, both inside and outside the country, to start blogging. The blogsphere has mushroomed.
Some Lebanese have been blogging for a number of years, but the first real influx of bloggers started in February 2005, when former prime-minister Rafic Hariri was blown up. I believe it was the indignation of most Lebanese with such blatant act that got them going (me included). And now the Israeli bombings got the rest on the high-horse. Anyone with a computer started a blog.
Some interesting ones are:
Electronic Lebanon (A collection of war bloggers)
Open Lebanon (Has both headlines and blogger updates of some of the main bloggers. It also has a section of ‘Helping Lebanon’ links.)
For a really good view as to the destruction of the Southern suburbs (Hezbolland), check out this before and after picture, and this is the Google satellite site, which indicates some landmarks.

I went to the southern suburbs yesterday for a story, am going back today for some more on the reconstruction efforts, this time from Hezbollah’s perspective. Their Information Office has been relocated, as the former one was ‘a little damaged’, the guy said. Hussein Nabulsi, their very eloquent, elegant and friendly spokesman was ‘on a holiday’, I was informed. He probably needed one.
People were climbing all over the massive piles of rubble, trying to locate where their home was, and see if anything can be saved. They are now mainly looking for papers; passports, official documents, home-ownership papers, ID cards etc. A girl was looking for her report cards from school, another for the hard disk of her computer (both were found). It seems that pretty much anything is destroyed, but that textiles (clothes, carpets and blankets) can sometimes be recovered, and paperwork as well. Sometimes photo albums are recovered. I've been trying to upload some pictures, but it is not working well.

In the meantime, the government has engaged itself in a bidding war with Hezbollah. Hezbollah hands out 12,000 $ in cash? They will give $40,000! Comes with a condition though. $15,000 up front, $15,000 when they start building, and another $10,000 in the end for furnishing the place. It’s a good thing. However, Hezbollah can trust its employees with large piles of cash, which it then hands out to civilians, because Hezbollah has a reputation of not being corrupt. Maybe this is instilled by fear, but who cares? The government however, is going to run into problems as government employees are in general notoriously corrupt. Are they actually going to hand out that amount? Are they going to hand it out to the ‘right’ people, or to family and friends? It’s a tricky business. The idea is nice, but I have to see it materialize.

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