Norwegian People's Aid (NPA) became involved in Lebanon following an Israeli invasion in 1982 to undertake emergency relief, physical rehabilitation and vocational training. Following a second Israeli invasion in 2006, a Mine Action and Humanitarian Disarmament Programme was introduced in response to the problem of landmines, cluster munitions and other Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) remaining after 15 years of civil war and two armed conflicts with Israel.
Although explosive contamination is present throughout the country, southern Lebanon is the most heavily-contaminated region due to Israel’s extensive use of cluster munitions in 2006, and of landmines to support positions along Lebanon’s southern border now commonly referred to as the ‘Blue Line’. As many as four million cluster munitions were fired into Lebanon in 2006 with an estimated one million of these weapons failing to explode. An estimated 55 square kilometers of land in southern Lebanon was contaminated with cluster munitions preventing people from safely using their land.
To date, 3,846 victims of ERW have been documented including 21 that were killed or injured in 2021 (up from 9 in 2020). A severe and deepening economic crisis is increasingly leading people to risk entering dangerous areas to collect wood, harvest wild foods and medicines, graze animals and expand agriculture. As many as 200,000 people live in the vicinity of contaminated areas. Growing pressures for access to land determine that clearance represents both safety and socio-economic opportunity for those benefiting both directly and indirectly from it.
What do we do, the problem and our progress
In 2006, NPA initiated a Humanitarian Mine Action Programme focused on clearing cluster munitions in southern Lebanon, expanding its focus in 2017 to include clearance of the Israeli-laid minefields located along Lebanon's southern border. By the end of 2021, NPA had destroyed 15,672 landmines and 17,917 cluster munitions and numerous other ERW in the process releasing 10 km2 of safe land back to communities. The Lebanon Mine Action Centre (LMAC) reports that at the end of 2021, 6.3 km2 of cluster munition contamination and 17.5 km2 of landmine contamination remains to be cleared.