Lebanon: ECHO funded mine and UXO clearance project in the region of Tyre


The project consists of four eight man teams under the supervision of international technical advisors. The teams are tasked to clear groups of cluster bomb unit (CBU) strike areas as identified and prioritised by the NDO and the UNMACC - SL. Background


(06.02.2008)

It is estimated that in Lebanon, 150 million square meters of was affected by mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) since 1975. In the period up to August 2006, 40 million square meters of land were returned to the Lebanese people through a combination of activities conducted by the Lebanese Army, Operation Emirates Solidarity (OES), non-governmental organization demining resources and the national technical survey.

The 2006 Israeli-Lebanese conflict and its aftermath of severe cluster munitions contamination by the Israeli Armed Forces in southern Lebanon forced the National Demining Office (NDO) and the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre - South Lebanon (UNMACC-SL) to suspend ongoing mine clearance operations and divert all available resources to counter this new threat. It is estimated that after this latest conflict, over 1 million unexploded cluster munitions caused the contamination of approximately 34 million square meters of land.

Socio-economic development in Lebanon continues to be substantially affected by old and new mines and explosive remnants of war. The NDO and the the UNMACC-SL actively pursue the implementation of emergency battle area clearance and survey activities in the most recently affected areas.
Operations

The FSD deployed a number of international technicians to Lebanon in September, however the current project, funded by ECHO, effectively started in December 2006 with the purchase of technical equipment and will commence conducting Battle Area Clearance (BAC) and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) in February 2007, following the training of national technical staff.

The project consists of four eight man teams under the supervision of international technical advisors. The teams are tasked to clear groups of cluster bomb unit (CBU) strike areas as identified and prioritised by the NDO and the UNMACC - SL.

FSD's first task is the clearance of 11 CBU strike areas in the town of Siddiqin situated in the southern western district of Caza Sour (Tyre). The town was extensively damaged during the conflict by various types of rockets and artillery which have left numerous areas contaminated with cluster munitions. Since the end of the conflict in south Lebanon there have been 224 report accidents, 195 of these being attributed to sub-munitions.

Two major challenges are faced by the FSD operators every day. Many contaminated areas contain kitchen gardens and greenhouses - places where vegetation grows very thickly, and very quickly. The time consuming task of removing vast quantities of vegetation must be completed before the actual search for cluster munitions can actually commence.

Another significant challenge is the difficulty of working in and around destroyed or damaged houses and other buildings - frequently large amounts of rubble, some of which may contain cluster munitions, must be removed in order to allow the ground to be properly searched. The FSD has been fortunate to enjoy the support of a number of armoured mechanical front end loaders provided by the Swedish Rescue Services Agency (SRSA). The SRSA mechanical units remove and spread the debris in safe areas which allows the FSD manual operators to conduct a visual search of the rubble. These mechanical units greatly assist to speed up the clearance rates in these urban environments.

Von: www.reliefweb.int, 07.02.2008

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