Southern Lebanon’s economy devastated

Marketplace Staff Aug 7, 2006


MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Twelve Israelis were killed over the weekend in Hezbollah rocket attacks on Northern Israel. The Lebanese Prime Minister today said more than 40 people were killed during Israeli air strikes in the south of the country. Southern Lebanon is the region closest to Israel and the Islamist Hezbollah organization is strong there. The south’s economy has been devastated by the war. Ben Gilbert made a trip to some of the villages near the port city of Tyre in southern Lebanon. He has this report.

BEN GILBERT: Southern Lebanon has been hit the hardest by fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. The region is one of the poorest in Lebanon.

Now, there’s no electricity or water in many of the villages and towns around the port city of Tyre. Most places are nearly deserted. It’s been difficult for aid to get through. But some convoys have made the dangerous trip.

In the town of Qana, about 5 miles west of Tyre, the only people on the streets are a dozen men dragging cardboard boxes of UNICEF aid into a garage. More than 60 people died here last week in an Israeli air strike.

Bassem Bourjee is one of those who chose to remain.

“I am here because there are still many families here.” Bourjee says. “The UNICEF Aid will be distributed from this city to the areas nearby to people who need it.”

Down the road, on a strip of closed and shuttered shops, two old, portly men stand in the shade of their small grocery store. It’s the only business open for miles around. They’re brothers, and one of them, Ali Talib says there are several reasons to stay open.

“The first reason to open the store is to help the people who cannot find any food.” Talib says. “The second reason is to raise people’s morale.”

Ali and Hussein brave the roads every few days to pick up fresh vegetables and eggs. And they’re defiant. They say they’ll stay here in the face of Israeli air strikes.

In Tyre, Lebanon, I’m Ben Gilbert for Marketplace.

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