UN Special Coordinator Sigrid Kaag and EU Ambassador Christina Lassen Welcome Lebanon’s Mine Action Efforts
United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag and European Union Ambassador to Lebanon Christina Lassen visited the Regional Mine Action Center (RMAC) in Nabatieh today. The visit included a briefing by Brig. Gen. Ziad Nasr, Director of the Lebanon Mine Action Center, on progress made in the implementation of Lebanon’s National Mine Action Strategy, including in the clearing of mines, cluster munitions, unexploded ordnances and all explosive remnants of war.
Ms. Kaag and Ms. Lassen also visited a demining site, and met with representatives of non-governmental organizations, which support the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in their efforts to rid the country of mines and unexploded ordinance. Discussions focused on victims' assistance, training and advocacy efforts to raise awareness on the dangers of all unexploded ordinances.
Ms. Kaag praised the ongoing efforts undertaken, and underscored the importance of both prevention and rehabilitation. "Mine action should remain a priority until all mines, cluster munitions and unexploded ordnance are cleared from Lebanese territory," Ms. Kaag said. She said the United Nations would encourage additional international support for Lebanon’s mine clearance activities to enable it to complete the implementation of its Mine Action Strategy by 2020.
EU Ambassador Lassen explained that “Land contamination negatively impacts the affected communities’ development by preventing agricultural or other economic activities in and around contaminated areas. Apart from alleviating human suffering, EU funded actions strengthen the capacity of the military in mine action and support the broader EU efforts to support the reform of the security sector in Lebanon. We also encourage other donors and the private sector in Lebanon to join us in our efforts.”
Following the visit dedicated to mine action activities, Special Coordinator Kaag and Ambassador Lassen visited Mrs. Randa Berri, founder of the Lebanese Welfare Association for the Handicapped. Special Coordinator Kaag and Ambassador Lassen were given a comprehensive overview of the Association's integrated programme, and a tour of the facilities.
Lebanon has cleared some 67% of areas contaminated by mines, cluster munitions and UXOs. The EU is the biggest donor in mine action in Lebanon. Since 2006 around 38 million Euros have been allocated to the sector. Ongoing support amounts to 10 million Euros.