|Italy, CDR ink $7.2 million deal to help rebuild Nahr al-Bared|
|The Italian ambassador and the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) signed a 5 million-euro ($7.2 million) cooperation agreement on Tuesday for the recovery and reconstruction of the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp and conflict affected areas in North Lebanon.
The agreement was signed by Italian ambassador Gabriele Checchia and the president of the CDR, Nabil Jisr, and outlines a defines the grant recently approved by the Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry, according to a statement released by the Italian Embassy.
The statement said the new agreement regulates Italy\'s contribution at the Vienna donor\'s conference of June 2008.
It added that Italy\'s 5 million euro commitment will be disbursed as direct budget support to the Lebanese government for the recovery and reconstruction of the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp and conflict-ridden areas of North Lebanon.
The statement said that the agreement was an additional sign of \"Italy\'s commitment to improving living conditions in Palestinian refugee camps and surrounding areas - a commitment which has continuously increased since the 2006 conflict, reaching an overall figure of 13 million euros.\"
It added that the agreement will be implemented in cooperation with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the United Nations Development Program, and NGOs, and in the framework of a constant dialogue with the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee.
The Italian aid will go toward infrastructure improvement in the camp in response to the emergency appeal of 2007, as well as early recovery of six municipalities surrounding Nahr al-Bared and reconstruction of the camp. Immediately after the start of the summer 2007 clashes between the Lebanese army and Al-Qaeda-inspired Fatah al-Islam militant group, Italy also allocated part of the funds of its ROSS Emergency Program to address the immediate needs of the displaced persons.
\"The signature today is a further indication of how much importance we place on ensuring that all Italy\'s development cooperation initiatives in Lebanon are the result of constant interaction and coordination with the Lebanese government,\" Checchia said. \"Italy\'s continued and systematic contribution to all components of Lebanese society and to the improvement of living condition in Palestinian refugee camps stands as a clear indication of Italy\'s commitment to Lebanon\'s development and stability.\"
According to the statement, the government of Italy has been consistently contributing to the post-summer 2006 war reconstruction of Lebanon. At the Stockholm Donor\'s Conference of August 2006, Italy contributed 30 million euros which later coupled with a further 120 million pledged at the Paris III Conference. Through NGOs, UN agencies and the Lebanese government, Italy is financing and implementing projects throughout the country in the sectors of local development, agriculture, water and wastewater infrastructure, social and educational services, healthcare, environment, women\'s and children\'s rights.
Italy\'s overall developmental assistance to Lebanon approaches 250 million euros (approximately $370 million) in multi-year programs.
Beirut,09 24 2008
The Daily Star