International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, 4 April 2010

6 Apr 2010

International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, 4 April 2010

Naqoura, Lebanon – The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) marked today the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. The Day provides an opportunity to draw attention to the global problem of landmines and explosives remnants of war and to the United Nations response to it.

"UNIFIL is working in close coordination with the Lebanese Mine Action Centre (LMAC), the Lebanese Armed Forces and other specialized agencies to free the south of Lebanon of this scourge," UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas said, "I commend the entire demining community, national and international, for their diligent efforts towards this noble and dangerous venture."

Since the end of the 2006 conflict, unexploded ordnance (UXO), particularly cluster munitions, continues to maim and kill civilians in southern Lebanon. Unexploded ordnance and cluster munitions clearance combined have led to 28 civilian fatalities and 248 civilian injuries, and among demining personnel resulting from clearance activities since August 2006 to 59, with 14 fatalities and 45 injuries.

During 2002–2008, mine clearance in southern Lebanon was coordinated by the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Centre of Southern Lebanon (UNMACC-SL) as a partnership between the United Nations and the Lebanese Armed Forces. As a part of this coordinated effort, UNIFIL demining teams have to date cleared around 4.8 million square metres of affected land and destroyed more than 34,000 unexploded ordnances (UXOs) and mines in southern Lebanon. In addition, UNIFIL regularly carries out activities directed at raising awareness amongst the local population about the danger of landmines and other explosive remnants of war.

With the transition of coordination authority to the Lebanon Mine Action Centre (LMAC) in January 2009, UNMACC-SL has now been integrated into UNIFIL. The Lebanese Armed Forces component will continue its work as a part of the Lebanese Regional Mine Action Centre in Nabatieh.

Landmines and explosive remnants of war affect at least 70 countries and injure or kill between 15,000 and 20,000 people every year. United Nations agencies, funds, programmes, and departments are together helping find and destroy these devices and providing other mine-action services in almost 27 countries and territories.