| 14 April 2024, Sunday |

U.S. report on CWD activities, demining efforts in Lebanon

The United States has invested more than $82 million in conventional weapons destruction (CWD) activities in Lebanon since 1998 and is the largest donor to CWD programs in the country, the U.S. Department of State said in a report it published on April 5.

With the conflict in Syria and resulting flow of refugees into areas potentially contaminated by explosive remnants of war (ERW), the U.S. Department of State said it significantly increased its CWD assistance to Lebanon in FY 2015, providing more than $26.8 million in support of CWD efforts in the years since.

This assistance, managed by the Bureau of Political Military-Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA), has enabled the U.S. partners to clear dangerous hazards deliberately placed by the Islamic State (IS) militant group along Lebanon’s border with Syria.

This assistance also supported efforts to remove explosive hazards along the Blue Line in southern Lebanon, in northern Lebanon, and in Mount Lebanon Governorate; and to provide crucial physical security and stockpile management (PSSM) upgrades to ammunition depots for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).

Over 35 million square meters of Lebanon remain contaminated by landmines, unexploded ordnance, and other ERW from multiple conflicts, including the 1975-1990 Civil War and the Israel-Hezbollah conflict of 2006.  The brief presence of IS and other violent extremist groups along Lebanon’s border with Syria as well as LAF operations to dislodge these groups in 2017 also resulted in ERW contamination.  Since 1975, ERW in Lebanon has killed more than 900 people and left thousands more injured, according to the report.

Through American support, the U.S. implementing partners accomplished the following from FY 2018 to FY 2020:

-Cleared over 9,681 landmines and other explosive hazards from more than 1,094,000 square meters of land, enabling communities across Lebanon to use this land safely for farming, grazing, and other economic opportunities;

-Provided facility upgrades and emergency repairs at LAF ammunition depots, trained ammunition management staff in stockpile management best practices, and assessed sites for potential future assistance;

-Delivered vocational training to 39 landmine survivors and their families as well as medical assistance, including new prosthetic limbs and repairs to broken prosthetics, to 46 landmine survivors from across Lebanon; and

-Trained and provided 13 mine and explosive detection dogs for the LAF.

PM/WRA currently funds the following NGOs in Lebanon:

-Humanity and Inclusion (HI): HI conducts ERW clearance in North Governorate.  HI expects to complete clearance of this province by December 2021.

-Mines Advisory Group (MAG): MAG conducts ERW survey and clearance in southern Lebanon, Nabatiyeh, and Arsal as well as PSSM capacity building with the LAF.

-DanChurchAid (DCA): DCA conducts clearance operations in Mount Lebanon.  WRA has previously funded DCA operations in southern Lebanon.

Additionally, PM/WRA previously funded the following NGOs in Lebanon:

-Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI): From September 2017 to August 2018, WRA provided funding to MLI for medical treatment and vocational training to landmine survivors.  MLI also provided mine detection dogs to the Lebanese Mine Action Center.

-Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA): WRA provided funding to NPA from January 2016 through December 2018 for clearance operations in southern Lebanon.

The United States is the world’s single largest financial supporter of efforts to clear ERW.  Since 1993, the United States has contributed more than $4 billion to over 100 countries around the world to reduce the harmful worldwide effects of at-risk, illicitly proliferated, and indiscriminately used conventional weapons of war.