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Housing, education sectors hardest hit by war

Housing was the most severely damaged sector of the Lebanese economy during the Israeli invasion, according to preliminary reports.

A study prepared for the Lebanese government's Council for Reconstruction and Development (CRD) estimated housing damage at $669.8 million. A separate United Nations report noted severely damaged or destroyed houses as: 13,500 in west Beirut, 2,700 in Sidon, 1,400 in Damour, 500 in Tyre, and 450 in Nabatiyeh.

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''These are our major cities,'' says CRD director Muhammad Atallah. You tend to destroy much more when you bombard urban conglomerations.''

Some 600,000 persons were displaced from their homes in the war. Many are now resettled. Through the end of October, the International Committee of the Red Cross reported it was providing food assistance to 22,000 families in Beirut, southern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and the Tripoli region. Red Cross officials say that with reunification of the capital and the availability of reasonably priced food ''only a limited number of displaced persons and a few resident vulnerable groups will need food assistance in the coming months.''

War damage to schools was the next most costly, according to the CRD report. In Beirut and southern Lebanon, $117.3 million worth of damage was done to schools. This situation had caused postponement of the academic year through early November.

The government was faced with the difficult decision of whether to open undamaged schools in the predominantly Christian sectors or wait until provision was made for students in the mainly Muslim areas.

The third hard-hit area was hospitals and health facilities. These suffered $ 57.5 million in damage. This was followed in cost by damage to the airport ($24 million) and seaport ($7.8 million), roads ($11.4 million), and potable water ($ 6.1 million).

While government and relief workers are still laboring to clear and patch roads and repair water mains, most services at hospitals, the seaport, and airport are back in operation. Besides physical damage, such enterprises suffered heavy loss of revenue during the three months of war. But economists expect some of the shortfall to be made up in the next few months if a stable political climate exists.

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