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Reducing mine/UXO contamination in Lebanon

14-12-2000

ICRC community-based mine/unexploded ordnance awareness programme

      

 Mine awareness poster.  

   

         

    

 LRC summer camp in South Lebanon, Houla.  

 Children making mine-models in clay.  

    

      

 LRC summer camp in South Lebanon, Houla.  

 Children making mine awareness posters  

    

   

         

 LRC summer camp in South Lebanon, Houla.  

 Children singing mine awareness songs  

    

   

    

         

 Mine awareness leaflet for children.  

    

    

    

    

 

       Since June 2000, the ICRC has been providing the Lebanese Red Cross Society (LRCS) with support in the development of a mine/UXO-awareness programme in response to the increase in casualties following the withdrawal of Israeli forces.

The ICRC has trained 12 mine-awareness instructors whose role is to train LRCS field workers at community level. In cooperation with the LRCS, 5,000 mine-awareness posters and 100,000 leaflets in comic-strip form, mainly targeting children, have been distributed to support community-based LRCS mine-awareness activities for adults and children.

Thousands of anti-personnel landmines were laid during the decades of conflict in Lebanon, where, together with untold amounts of unexploded ordnance (UXO), they continue to pose a grave threat to people's lives and security. This threat has always been of serious concern to the ICRC and the local authorities, and steps have been taken to address the issue   since 1998. However, only since the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon, which was occupied for 22 years, has this deadly legacy attracted widespread public attention, both in Lebanon and abroad.

The formerly occupied territory is one of the most contaminated areas in the country. One week after the withdrawal of Israeli forces, seven mine/UXO accidents occurred in which five persons were killed and 13 injured, four of whom had to have amputations. This alarming news caused national and international organizations and agencies to intensify their m ine/UXO activities, a process in which the Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) was involved from the start. The ICRC has been helping to build up the LRC's capacities by training its staff and producing mine awareness materials.

The main threat to society comes from anti-personnel mines and UXO, especially cluster bomb sub-munitions, though the threat posed by anti-tank mines, roadside bombs and booby-traps should not be underestimated. The most severely affected areas are those along the former front lines, along the border with Israel and in and around former military positions. Parts of the Bekaa valley, Mount Lebanon and some areas in northern Lebanon are contaminated as well.

Both adults and children have been seen walking in and around military installations, sightseeing and collecting " souvenirs " . Since many of these people come from outside the formerly occupied territory and since other parts of Lebanon are contaminated as well, the ICRC/LRC mine awareness programme must be implemented throughout the whole country. However, the need for mine awareness activities is greatest in southern Lebanon and the west Bekaa area.

 The mine action context  

In 1998, the Lebanese government established the National Demining Office (NDO) by a ministerial resolution. Their primary task is to co-ordinate mine action activities in Lebanon.

A National Mine Awareness Committee was created by the NDO in 2001 with the aim to co-ordinate mine awareness activities in Lebanon.

The United Nations'Mine Action Co-ordination Center (UNMACC) located in Tyre is responsible for co-ordinating mine action activities in South Lebanon.

The United Arab Emirates have donated 50 mil. $US for mine clear ance operations in South Lebanon (through Operation Emirates'Solidarity (OES). UNMACC is responsible for setting up operational priorities for OES.

 Mine/UXO accidents  

The main types of activities that led to mine accidents were farming, tending livestock and handling different UXO. Most of the accidents involving children were caused by UXO that exploded while children were handling it.

There is no precise data on mine/UXO victims in Lebanon during the entire period of the conflict, but there are at least 1,546 injured and 1,168 killed, including 655 in South Lebanon. 90% of the total number were male and around 5% were children.

The data presented in the tables below covers the 2000 - 2002 and was compiled by the Landmine Resource Centre of the University of Balamand in Beirut.

 1. All Ages / Civilians  

2'000

2'001

2'002

Survivors

Deaths

Survivors

Deaths

Survivors

Deaths

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

88

4

13

1

63

7

14

0

18

0

3

0

 2. Children under 18  

2'000

2'001

2'002

Survivors

Deaths

Survivors

Deaths

Survivors

Deaths

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

29

3

9

1

16

4

8

0

9

0

2

0

 3. Demining technicians/military  

2'000

2'001

2'002

Lebanese

Foreigners

Lebanese

Foreigners

Lebanese

Foreigners

11

0

8

10

4

9

 Victim assistance  

The LRC is running the Himlin Orthopaedic Centre in Hamana. Three other orthopaedic centres, set up earlier by the ICRC in Beit Shabab, Saida and Tripoli are now run by private institutions or NGOs and the ICRC still provides technical support and equipment.

Within the NDO there is a Victim Assistance Steering Committee as a co-ordinating body and the World Health Organisation (WHO) is the leading agency for mine victim assistance in the UN system.

 Advocacy  

Lebanon is not party to the Ottawa treaty (Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personel Mines) and officials stress that it will acceed to the treaty once its neighbours do. In February 1999, the ICRC, together with the Landmine Resource Centre, organised a regional seminar on landmines in Beirut. There is a plan to organise a meeting on this issue in spring 2003, in co-operation with the Canadian and Dutch embassies and with the support of the SRSG of the UN for South Lebanon.

 ICRC/LRC mine/UXO awareness programme  

Together with the LRC, th e ICRC is promoting a community-based integrated approach in which it is planned to link awareness activities with marking/clearance activities and humanitarian activities in general. The programme being set up will take into account the needs of the local population and will include data collection, a school project, media activities and other community activities and initiatives adopting an interactive approach (presentations, meetings, group discussions, cooperation with other organizations dealing with mine issues, etc.).

 Training conducted by the ICRC  

The ICRC has trained 12 mine awareness instructors whose role is to train LRC activists at field level. One of these instructors is serving as mine awareness assistant coordinator in Beirut, the position of mine awareness coordinator being held by the head of the LRC public affairs and communication department.

Mine awareness instructors come from all over the country, but mainly from the severely affected south (seven instructors):

- Zahrani (southern Lebanon)

- Nabatiye (southern Lebanon)

- Saida (southern Lebanon)

- Marjiyoun/Hasbaiya (southern Lebanon)

- Tyr (southern Lebanon)

- Bent Jbail (southern Lebanon)

- Machghara (western Bekaa valley)

- Alay (Mount Lebanon - north)

- Mount Lebanon - south)

- Zahleh/Baalbek (northern Bekaa valley)

- Batroun (northern Lebanon)

- Beirut

.

 Mine awareness activities  

Using its credibility acquired as a result of its activities during the Israeli occupation, the LRC conducted mine awareness activities through its large network of volunteers. These activities were part of the overall efforts within the country to raise the awareness of the people on the dangers of mines/UXO, one of the main target group being children. They were reached through presentations in schools, different activities in the summer camps and distribution of MA posters and leaflets.

Unlike the majority of organisations involved in MA activities, the LRC is carrying out its activities in the whole country and not only in the south of Lebanon. The activities are carried out in co-ordination with the National Mine Awareness Steering Committee of the NDO.

 Mine awareness materials  

 Training materials  

The ICRC has produced the following materials and had them translated into Arabic:

 - mine awareness training manual and general curriculum for mine awareness instructors

 - mine awareness school curriculum

 Posters and leaflets  

    

The ICRC and LRC have designed and produced 5,000 mine awareness posters in cooperation with the NDO. These posters are aimed mainly at children, but they can also be useful for work with adults.

Some 100,000 mine awareness leaflets in comic-strip form have also been   produced for children.

These materials are distributed to support community-based mine awareness activities initiated by LRC activists for adults and/or children.

The development of new MA posters and leaflets is in process.

 Video tape with MA theatre play  

A video tape with the'Little Red Riding Hood'MA theatre play has been dubbed into Arabic and will be used as part of MA activities for children. It can also be used in other mine/UXO affected Arab countries in the region.

 Integration with Survey/Marking/Mapping/Clearance  

The ICRC participated in financing the production of signs used for marking dangerous areas, an activity in which the LRC was involved alongside the Lebanese army (LRC first-aid teams accompanied marking teams in order to be able to provide first aid in the event of accidents).

Within the Operation Emirates Solidarity, 4 members of the LRC first aid teams are accompanying Mines Advisory Group (MAG) medics, 2 others are engaged as medics with BACTEC and 2 with MINETECH, commercial companies engaged in clearance operations.

Two LRC staff members are also working for MAG on the socio-economic survey carried out in the whole country.