NAQOURA, Lebanon: Mines remain a threat to communities in South Lebanon, according to the U.N., which marked International Day of Mine Awareness Friday.
To mark awareness about the issue, the United Nations Mine Action Support Team used a mock minefield to hold free demining demonstrations for students at three United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon bases, in Naqoura, Shemaa and Marjayoun.
Displays and demonstrations by demining personnel from Belgian, Cambodian, Chinese, French, Italian, Spanish and Sri Lankan contingents were also featured on the day.
In each location, about 70 children from local schools were invited to participate.
Also in attendance was a delegation from the Lebanese Army’s south Litani sector and the regional Mine Action Center, the supervising authority for humanitarian demining activities, as well as representatives of the international community and UNIFIL personnel.
“This day is intended to make local communities aware of the remaining threats from explosive remnants of war in the south of Lebanon, and we would also like to draw attention to the victims and survivors of ERW related incidents and accidents,” said UNMAST Program Manager Leon Louw.
“By involving students, attention can be drawn at the grassroots level to remaining threats, as well as promoting UNIFIL’s efforts to clear areas close to the Blue Line to ease the marking process.”
Louw added that the event also had a commemorative function.
“Today we are ... celebrating the survivors, [who are] overcoming their disabilities caused by ERW, and actively joining and contributing in their societies,” he said.
“We want to spread the message throughout UNIFIL’s area of operation and gather a higher number of participants from several communities,” he added.
As of March 1, 2014, UNIFIL peacekeepers completed over 95,000 square meters of mine clearance and over 4.6 million square meters of battle area clearance. During the process, 2,787 anti-personnel mines, 163 anti-tank mines, 92 unexploded bombs, 28,719 cluster bombs and 3,419 other unexploded ordnance objects have been destroyed.
Due to a lack of funding, however, the Lebanese Mine Action Center has fewer than a quarter of the teams it needs to meet its 2020 clearance targets.
UNIFIL has also facilitated the construction of 300 marker barrels along the Blue Line, supporting security in the region in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701.
The annual International Day of Mine Awareness was established on Dec. 8, 2005, by the United Nations General Assembly.