UN and Lebanon launch major demining effort funded by United Arab Emirates

UN and Lebanon launch major demining effort funded by United Arab Emirates

The United Nations, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Lebanon today launched a $50 million effort to clear Lebanese territory of landmines.

Hailing the UAE for funding the initiative, which is known as "Operation Emirates Solidarity," the Secretary-General's Personal Representative for Southern Lebanon, Staffan de Mistura, said it was rare to find a single donor that could so dramatically influence the course of freeing captive populations from the landmine threat. "We are truly fortunate to have this commitment from the Emirates as it will accelerate the demining process from what could have taken decades to just a few years," he told a press conference in Beirut.

Mr. de Mistura also expressed sadness over the fact that landmines had killed two additional people in the area in recent days. "It is imperative that these mines be removed and that normality - day to day life without fear - return fully to the south," he said.

Lebanon's Minister of Defence, Khalil Hrawi, said the Lebanese Government, working in coordination with the UN, would establish an international support group to bring together States and UN bodies that have voiced their readiness to assist demining activities in southern Lebanon. Among its tasks, the group will focus on identifying sources to finance the demining effort, launching awareness campaigns about the dangers of mines, and assisting the victims of those weapons.

UAE Ambassador Mohammad Omran said ongoing cooperation between his country, Lebanon and the UN represented a model of humanitarian international relations. He also underscored the need for all involved in the project to ensure its swift implementation.