“Mine Action Cannot Wait”
As the world marks the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on April 4, UNIFIL peacekeepers continue the crucial work of clearing large swathes of south Lebanese lands of deadly mines.
This year's theme, "Mine Action Cannot Wait," highlights the urgent need to address decades of contamination and the ongoing threat of explosive ordnance.
Landmines or other explosive remnants of war present a significant danger in southern Lebanon. There are more than 1,200 contaminated areas in south Lebanon, covering more than 6.9 million square metres of land, negatively affecting an estimated 200,000 people and UN personnel. To combat this threat, UNIFIL continues to support the Government of Lebanon's humanitarian mine action activities.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated that conflicts leave behind landmines and explosive ordnance that pose a threat to communities even after the fighting stops. In his message, he emphasized that "[p]eace brings no assurance of safety when roads and fields are mined, when unexploded ordnance threatens the return of displaced populations, and when children find and play with shiny objects that explode."
The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) plays a vital role in ensuring a stable and secure environment in south Lebanon. UNMAS provides technical guidance, quality assurance and control of UNIFIL's demining and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams, and delivers mine-risk education to local communities.
In 2022, UNIFIL deminers cleared 25,479 square metres of land and destroyed 5,571 anti-personnel mines. The collaboration between UNMAS, UNIFIL, and the Lebanese Mine Action Center (LMAC) enables UNIFIL to contribute to Lebanon’s vision for “Lebanese communities to prosper, free from the threat of explosive ordnance.”
This day is an important reminder to continue supporting efforts to clear landmines and ensure the safety of communities. As the Secretary-General stated, "Mine Awareness Cannot Wait," and urgent action is needed to eliminate this deadly threat.