AUSTRALIA INCREASES FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR DE-MINING ACTIVITIES IN LEBANON
Prime Minister Gillard recently announced an increase in Australia’s support for de-mining activities in Lebanon. The Prime Minister made the announcement while welcoming President Sleiman and his delegation to Australia – the first such visit by a Lebanese President.
Australia’s increased contribution of AU$915,000 in 2012-13 will accelerate the return of cleared land to the people of southern Lebanon. Consistent with Australia’s Global Mine Action Strategy, funding will help to clear greater areas of land, restoring access to farming land and infrastructure, and removing the risk of death and injury for communities in southern Lebanon.
Mines Advisory Group (MAG) will receive $500,000 in 2012-13, with an additional $500,000 pledged for 2013-14. This funding will assist in the clearance of 400,000 square metres of land in southern Lebanon, and builds on an existing Australian-funded project, which last year cleared 238,000 square metres of land, and benefited more than 11,000 people.
Additionally, $420,000 will be provided to Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) in 2012-13. This funding will directly contribute to the clearance of 170,000 square metres of contaminated land, the training and equipping of additional searchers, and the provision of victim assistance, risk education and advocacy programs. In 2011-12, Australian funding contributed to NPA’s clearance of 716,815 square metres of land and the destruction of 1,259 cluster munitions.
“Australia’s increased financial support for de-mining activities in Lebanon is a tangible sign of our commitment to the Lebanese people,” said Australia’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Lex Bartlem.
“Due to the outstanding work undertaken by our partners, MAG and NPA, hundreds of thousands of square metres of land in southern Lebanon have been returned to communities, enabling the development of agriculture, housing and infrastructure – all to the enormous benefit of the local economy.
“We are proud to continue to work with community-based de-mining teams and the Lebanese Government to ensure that Lebanon will one day be free of landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war.”