SHAMA, JULY 11 – UNIFIL Italian peacekeepers have organized one-day event dedicated to educational activities aimed at reducing the risk of injury from mines and unexploded ordnance. The initiative, held in the local public school “As Samaiyah”, in collaboration with the Lebanese Armed Forces and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), was addressed primarily to young people and children, especially the so-called “Lebanese diaspora”, those kids coming back home for the summer holidays, and facing the risk to walk on war ordnances dating to the last conflict with Israel in 2006. The event, attended by more than 200 young people aged 6 to 17, was chaired by the Italian contingent general, General Francesco Olla, as well as by the political authorities and local scout associations.
The day dedicated to “Mine Risk Education” was an opportunity to show to the audience technical-tactical skills required by the anti-mine operators equipped with EOD9 explosion-proof suit, the “K9” MDD (Mine Detection Dogs) and EDDs (Explosive Detection Dogs) units – dogs are trained to sit down as soon as a land mine has been discovered-, as well as robots for the detection, manipulation and disinfection of ordnances.
The anti-landmine campaign is promoted throughout Southern Lebanon by the Italian soldiers deployed in the “Leonte” Operation, and aims to protect the local population. The United Nations international mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was deployed in 1978, following the Israeli intervention, to create a security zone (“Blue Line”) separating the two countries. Italy has been participating to the international mission since 1979 and deploys 2,662 troops –more than France (1,444), Indonesia (1,248) and Spain (1,044)–, reflecting the importance of the Operation “Leonte”.
According to the Resolution 1701 of 11th August 2006, the UN Security Council reinforced the military contingent of UNIFIL with 15.000 soldiers that had to be deployed in Lebanon, enlarging the operational area up to the South of the Litani river. Since 24th July 2014 Major-General Luciano Portolano is the UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force in Lebanon. Italy has got the leadership of the Sector West Command and Italian soldiers duty includes monitoring constantly the “Blue Line” and training of Lebanese Armed Forces located to the south of the Litani River.
(@onuitalia, 11 July 2017)