Australia funds landmine clearance in southern Lebanon
Australia is providing USD500,000 to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) to remove landmines and unexploded ordnance in southern Lebanon.
The funding is being used to clear rural and residential areas for the many people who have returned home following the recent conflict.
"Unexploded ordnance poses a direct threat to communities and internally displaced persons and hampers humanitarian relief," said Australia's Special Representative on Mine Action and Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Teresa Gambaro.
"Clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnance will also allow the safe movement of people and will assist in the difficult task of reconstructing houses and essential infrastructure."
The World Food Programme has reported that there were many casualties from unexploded ordnance in Lebanon arising from the recent hostilities.
"It is important that aid organisations working in Lebanon are safe from the risk of landmines and unexploded ordnance, and that their access to vulnerable populations is not impeded. This project is timely given the large-scale recovery operations already underway in southern Lebanon."
"In recognition of our leading role in international action against landmines, Australia will preside over the September meeting of States Parties to the Mine-Ban Convention in Geneva," Ms Gambaro said.
Media inquiries: Dean Savage (Ms Gambaro's Office) 0438 171 330
Von: Source: Government of Australia, 08 Sep 2006, www.reliefweb.int