BEIRUT, MAY 15 – As Chair of the Mine Action Support Group for 2016/17, the Italian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Inigo Lambertini is in Beirut today to lead a three day visit of the Mine Action Support Group in Lebanon.
Landmines and other ERW continue to endanger the lives of local populations in Lebanon and UNIFIL personnel in the Mission Area of Operations. The most recent landmine-related incident involving UN personnel occurred in September 2016, when a UNIFIL patrol vehicle hit a landmine in South Lebanon. Although the vehicle was severely damaged, no injuries were reported.
Goal of the mission is to manati the attention of the international community on the continued presence of mines in Lebanon were over three thousand people suffered injuries from landmines and a third of the country still needs to be cleared. The visit was organized in coordination with the Italian Embassy in Beirut, the Lebanese Mine Action Center of the Lebanese Armed Forces and UNMAS. Among the first appointment of the mission were a meeting with General Joseph Aoun, the LAF Commander, and a visit to a demining center on Mount Lebanon.
UNMAS Programme in Lebanon works in support of S/RES/2305 (2016) to encourage “the parties in coordination with UNIFIL to …. visibly mark the Blue Line in its entirety…”, and to provide UNIFIL and OGL personnel with the knowledge required in order to safely operate in environments where the presence of landmines and other ERW is known and/or suspected. UNMAS Lebanon supports UNIFIL demining activities along the “Blue Line”, through the provision of training support and validation of UNIFIL demining teams, along with quality assurance and monitoring of operational and completed sites. These activities allow UNIFIL troop contributing country demining teams to safely conduct clearance and to ensure compliance with national and international mine action standards.
The UNIFIL Deputy Force Commander heads the Blue Line Task Force, which is involved in the marking process. The UNIFIL J3 Combat Engineers Section coordinates operations for seven demining teams provided by Cambodia and China. UNMAS Lebanon conducts the following activities in support of these efforts:
- Refresher training support for the demining units of UNIFIL troop contributing countries
- Validation of UNIFIL demining teams in accordance with International Mine Action Standards (IMAS)
- Quality assurance monitoring of operational sites
- Quality assurance of task completions
- Quality assurance during the process of task suspension
- Explosive ordnance awareness briefings for UNIFIL civilian and military personnel, as well as risk education outreach to local communities and non-governmental organizations.
UNIFIL de-mining and EOD experts are from Cambodia, France, Italy. There are such experts also from Ghana, Malaysia and South Korea but they are responsible for clearing explosive remnants of war (ERWs) only within their camp vicinity. They also regularly conduct activities aimed at raising public awareness to the dangers of explosive remnants of war to other troop contributing countries (TCCs) within the mission.
UNMAS Lebanon operational activities are funded by the UNIFIL Assessed Budget for the 2016/2017 fiscal year ending on 30 June 2017. The programme received the full budget allocation requested for this timeframe, and as such, will continue to carry out activities without delay or interruption. UNMAS Lebanon was also awarded USD 40,000 USD from the Government of Korea which will be used for mine risk education activities in coordination with UNIFIL Civil Affairs and the Lebanon Mine Action Center (LMAC). (@OnuItalia)
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