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Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
August 23, 2006


United States Emergency Aid to Lebanon to Clear Explosive Remnants of War

The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs is quickly expanding its nearly decade-long landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) humanitarian clearance program in Lebanon in order to help remove the newest explosive remnants of war that endanger the Lebanese who are returning to their homes in the southern part of the country.

Subject to Congressional approval, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement will provide shortly an initial emergency grant of $420,000 to MAG (Mines Advisory Group), a non-governmental organization that specializes in clearing explosive remnants of war, such as unexploded aerial bombs, cluster munitions, rocket propelled grenades, artillery shells, persistent landmines, abandoned ordnance, and any other hazardous detritus of battle that may affect Nabatiyeh, Jezzine, and Hasbya where some of the fiercest fighting between Israeli forces and Hezbollah occurred. This Office has already increased its ongoing support to the United Nations Joint Logistics Center explosive remnants of war data collection and mapping capability in Lebanon, through its partnership with the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, a non-governmental organization with extensive experience in surveys of landmine and UXO infestation worldwide. The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement will reallocate up to $2 million more to continue clearing explosive remnants of war in Lebanon in fiscal year 2007, which begins on October 1, 2006, also subject to Congressional approval.

Between 1998 and until the present conflict took place, the inter-agency U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program invested over $17 million dollars to help rid Lebanon of landmines and UXO left from previous conflicts, enable Lebanon's National Demining Office to initiate a national survey of explosive remnants of war and develop a rational plan for prioritizing clearance of them, supply the Lebanese Armed Forces with the best training and equipment to clear mines and UXO on land and in littoral waters, including mine detecting dogs and training for their Lebanese handlers, teach mine risk education, and render assistance to survivors of mine and UXO accidents. Please refer to the 6th Edition of "To Walk the Earth in Safety" at www.state.gov/t/pm/rls/rpt/walkearth/2006 for more comprehensive information about United States assistance to Lebanon in this regard.

A White House fact sheet, "United States Humanitarian, Reconstruction, and Security Assistance to Lebanon," describing the broad scope of United States efforts to help the Lebanese, may be downloaded at www.state.gov/p/nea/rls/70947.htm. Information about the U.S. Department of State's programs to clean up landmines and other remnants of war worldwide is available at www.state.gov/t/pm/wra.

2006/762


Released on August 23, 2006

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