BEIRUT: The World Bank said Tuesday it has earmarked $200 million for repairing Lebanon's unsafe roads, signaling a resumption of international aid months after the election of a president following a two-year vacuum in the country's top post.
The international lender said in a statement that the funds will be used to repair around 500 kilometers of roads in the first phase of a broader government plan "to revamp the country's crumbling road sector."
Lebanon has one the highest per capita rates of road accidents in the world. The World Health Organization estimated the total number of road traffic fatalities in 2015 at 1,088, and their associated economic cost at between 3 percent and 5 percent of GDP.
The World Bank said the Roads and Employment Project was approved Monday by its board of directors.
Ferid Belhaj, the World Bank's Middle East director, said the project would "help Lebanon continue to offer basic services both to its citizens and to Syrian refugees in the country."
Lebanon is home to some 1.5 million Syrian refugees, the equivalent of a third of its own population.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance money from the World Bank was held up as political disagreements over the election of a president blocked the ratification of loan agreements in parliament for more than two years.
The first phase of the plan has four key objectives, according to the World Bank. These including the rehabilitation and maintenance of existing road networks; the improvement of road safety systems; the purchase of equipment for emergency roadworks; and the capacity building to improve management and efficiency in the sector.
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