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UAE units accomplish demining operation in Southern Lebanon village

posted on 23/12/2006: 2667 views

Beirut - UAE engineering unites have finished today clearing mines, defusing bombs and removing cluster bomblets and other types of unexploded munitions in Arnon and Qal'at Shqeef villages in Southern Lebanon, announced the UAE Programme to Support and Rebuild Lebanon.

The said Programme is an initiative launched earlier this year by President H.H Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to clear Southern Lebanon of mines, cluster bomblets and blind bombs.

The directorate of the Programme handed over the cleared lands to the mayor of the Arnon in a ceremony attended by representatives of United Nations Mine Action Coordination Centre (UNMACC), the Lebanese Army's National Demining Bureau and the Ministry of Antiquities.

Lebanese officials and locals praised the UAE's demining efforts to save the lives of local people and the historical Shqeef Citadel (Qal'at Shqeef).

The cleared areas, some 7908 sq. meter, are part of the 6th Area, 3.136.440 sq meter, the clearance of which is expected to be finalized by the end of 2007.

Work now is underway to clear areas south of Littani River and along the Lebanese-Israeli borderline of unexploded ordnance.

As part of the UAE support to United Nations Mine Action Coordination Centre (UNMACC) which is carrying out a large-scale demining operation to clear mines, defuse and remove cluster bomblets and other types of unexploded munitions in Southern Lebanon, the UAE Programme to Support and Rebuild Lebanon recently signed agreements with two British companies, ArmourGroup and Bactec, to carry out a mine clearance operation along with the engineering personnel of the UAE Armed Forces.

Clusters bomblets, are present everywhere in and around contaminated villages, gardens, orchards and trees, rooftops and rubble are peppered with seemingly innocuous canisters that turn out to be cluster bombs.

Some 746 contaminated sites north of Littani River have been identified so far.

Unexploded sub munitions, duds that fail to detonate on impact but are still live and at risk of exploding to kill thousands of civilians are estimated by the UN between hundreds of thousands to over a million.

More than 2.1 million cluster bomblets have been, according to UN sources, launched or dropped by Israeli forces during the last three days of war.

The process of identifying contaminated sites has to be accelerated and finalized before the winter season because bomblets and other dangerous ordnance can be displaced and swept by rainwater and flash currents other sites or even buried underground for generations.

According to a recent UN report, the number of unexploded bombs and other ordnance in Southern Lebanon is higher than in Iraq or Kosovo. (Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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