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French Version

Demining body cleared 287,255 square meters during March

Mines Advisory Group (MAG) issued their report for the month of March on Friday, detailing efforts made in clearing Israeli munitions that litter the South. During the month of March, MAG successfully cleared 287,255 square meters of land "through hand, electronic, and visual techniques."

The group also removed and destroyed 231 cluster bombs and other unexploded munitions, including 219 sub-munitions and 12 items of unexploded ordinance.

MAG teams operate in 15 southern villages, including Yohmor, Zawtar West, Arnoun, Adshit, Jebshit, Kfar Ruman, Qosaybeh, Nabatieh and Habbouche, among others.

The United Nations and international human rights groups say that Israel dropped about 4 million cluster bomblets on Lebanon during the 2006 war. At least one million of those failed to explode and continue to pose a lethal threat to civilians in South Lebanon.

Since the end of the conflict, 27 civilians have been killed and 209 others wounded.

"The continued focus of clearance during the month of March moved toward clearance of agricultural and pastoral areas for the recovery of livelihoods," the MAG report said.

The report added that MAG officers continued to undertake "liaison activities at the pre-clearance, clearance, and post-clearance stages."

"There were 282 activities during the month of March, including 24 data-collection activities, 35 liaison activities, 16 unexploded ordinance tasking reports, and 152 other activities that support clearance work by providing control-point locations and storage areas, securing land owners' approval for using their house/fields for clearance activities, liaison with local authorities and emphasizing public safety messages to communities undergoing clearance," the MAG report said.

MAG said that it has also dispatched four teams to undertake clearance work and provide technical support to the UN Relief and Works Agency and other humanitarian groups at the northern Nahr al-Bared Palestinian camp, which was the scene of heavy fighting last summer between militants and the Lebanese Army.

MAG was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 in recognition for its work with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which culminated in the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. The international agreement, sometimes referred to as the Ottawa Convention, bans the use of anti-personnel landmines.

According to the group's mission statement, MAG moves into current and former conflict zones to clear the remnants of those conflicts, enabling recovery and assisting the development of affected populations.

"MAG consults with local communities and works to lessen the threat of death and injury, while releasing reclaimed and safe land and other vital resources back to the local population, helping countries to rebuild and develop their social and economic potential," the statement adds.

On Thursday, five boys were wounded by a cluster bomb explosion in South Lebanon, according to the National News Agency (NNA). The NNA identified the boys as Hassan al-Moallem, 13, and his brother Hussein, 15, Ahmad Zreik, 11, and his brothers Hussein, 10, and Ali, 12. NNA said the children were wounded after they touched the bomblet they had found outside a home in the village of Adshit. The five victims were then rushed to a hospital in Nabatieh.

Beirut 26-04-2008
The Daily Star

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