Lebanon to Compensate Bombing Victims $33,000 Per House

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Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said Wednesday that his government would pay $33,000 per house to compensate residents whose homes were destroyed by Israeli attacks.

Saniora said 130,000 housing units had been destroyed or damaged in more than a month of Israeli airstrikes and ground fighting with Hezbollah guerrillas, mostly in south Lebanon. He did not give a breakdown of the completely destroyed houses.

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Also Wednesday, the European Commission said it will pledge $54 million at Thursday's conference in Sweden to raise money to rebuild Lebanon. The money will be in addition to the $64 million that the European Union's head office has already earmarked for emergency relief to the country.

While Hezbollah launched rebuilding campaigns in its strongholds within days of the Aug. 14 cease-fire, the Lebanese government was criticized for a slow response.

In announcing its first aid package, Saniora said his government would donate prefabricated houses for residents to live in while their neighborhoods were being rebuilt.

Saniora also said he would ask delegates to the donors' conference in Sweden to take responsibility for rebuilding specific villages hit by Israeli attacks. Organizers of the conference were aiming to raise $500 million in aid for Lebanon, Sweden's aid minister said Tuesday.