UAE President's initiative brings back life in South Lebanon (Lebanon)
Beirut (27.02.2007) - The initiative of UAE President H.H Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to clear Southern Lebanon of mines and cluster bombs has brought a ray of hope to the people of the restive country who face the dangers of these unexploded ordnance left by the Israeli soldiers during the July 2006 war.
The initiative, which is part of the UAE Programme for Supporting and Reconstruction of Lebanon, includes launching educative campaigns to educate people in the affected areas of the danger of these unexploded munitions. According to UN reports, the number of bombs and mines in South Lebanon is higher than those in Iraq and Kosovo.
The programme directorate has translated into action this initiative and quickly took the necessary steps to put it into action by signing agreements with two British companies, ArmourGroup and Bactec, to carry out a large-scale mine clearing operation alongside the engineering personnel of the UAE Armed Forces. This step has helped to bring life back to the southern cities and villages in Lebanon.
The first batch of the Engineering Corps of the UAE Armed Forces arrived at the capital Beirut in mid January 2007 to undertake the demining and cluster bomb clearing mission in collaboration with the United Nations and the Lebanese Army.
The operation is expected to be completed by the end of this year. It is estimated that some 3,136,440 square meters out of a total area of 583,233,908 square meters is infested with anti-personnel mines cluster bombs and other unexploded ordinances.
Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi, Director of UAE Programme for Supporting and Reconstruction of Lebanon, said the programme sends a sincere and brotherly message to the Lebanese people, adding that it had been preceded by similar initiatives such as the UAE Solidarity Project of 2001 which was adjudged the most successful model of its kind worldwide.
The UAE engineering units accomplished their demining mission in the southern villages of Muleikh on December 4th , Arnon and Qal'at Shqeef on December 22nd, and Dallafa and Arabsalim on February 13th.
The directorate of the UAE Programme for Supporting and Reconstruction of Lebanon handed over the demined areas to the villages' mayors in special ceremonies attended by representatives of the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Committee (UNMACC), the Lebanese Army's National Demining Bureau, the Ministry of Antiquities and the natives of the affected areas, who praised the UAE for the great efforts in demining their areas and expressed profound gratitude to the leadership and people of the UAE.
Areas involved in the demining and cluster bomb clearing operation include the remaining part of the area that was seized in South Lebanon (with the exception the Blue Line) will be cleared of mines and cluster bombs by the end of 2007, according to a field study conducted by a specialised team from the UAE Armed Forces, in coordination with the Lebanese Army and the UNMACC. The area is located between the Litani and Awali rivers in the districts of Jazeen, Nabatiya and Hasbiya.
However, areas located in the southern part of Litani River, next to the border strip (the 580 square Kilometers areas demined during the 'Operation Emirates Solidarity' demining project), will be re-cleared, in order to remove the cluster bombs and the non-explosive bombs, that were left behind after the last Israeli attack on South Lebanon.
The UAE Project for Supporting and Reconstruction of Lebanon, is an extension of the 'Operation Emirates Solidarity' demining project, that was launched by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The demining project helped clear-off 58,073 mines scattered on 511 mine fields, 4,192 non-explosive bombs and 199 booby traps, all on an area of 4,930,286 square meters. About 193 square kilometres of cleared land was returned to its owners to begin a new life, including their socio-economic activities.
Von: 27.02.2007 www.peacejournalism.com Source: Emirates News Agency