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UNMEE MACC weekly update: 24 Nov 2006

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Updates

Operations

The Route Clearance (RCT) Team of the UNMEE MACC deployed to Sector Center, conducted road clearance operations in the Tserona area. The Integrated Demining Capacity (IDC) teams also deployed to Egri Mekel minefield in the Tserona area, within the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ). The teams cleared an area of 66,256 m² and 64.5 kms of road in the area, respectively.

The Field Operations Associate together with MRE Team One deployed to Adi Hakin and Shilalo areas, in Sector Center to confirm reports of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO). A report has been compiled about the UXO's found in the area and reported to Asmara, MACC HQ on 3 November 2006.

The Project Officer for Demining and Demarcation (PODD) visited United Nations Military Observers (UNMO) team site in Badme, Sector West on 17 November 2006. The PODD investigated the incident which occurred on the road between Badme and Shiraro on 12 November 2006. According to the team leader of the team site, an Anti-Tank (AT) mine was found along the main road.

The MACC's information section continued to supply landmine and UXO's maps to concerned stakeholders, increasing their knowledge and awareness of the threat. The Information Management System for Mine Action ensures the most accurate picture possible of Mine Action. Based on updated information, including Anti-Tank mine accidents related to new land mine usage, the MACC re-leases the PIR to assist the mission and other agencies in safely conducting peacekeeping and delivering hu-manitarian and development aid.

Two contracts with MECHEM included route verification and integrated demining capacity, which is made up of mechanical, mine-detection dogs and manual methods.

Peace keeping military deminers from Kenya were coor-dinated with Force Mine Action Center, within the MACC. The coordination included integration with the integrated demining capacity contract with Kenyans as the lead agency and main manual component, with an associated training course on mechanical and mine detecting dog methods provided to the Kenyans by MECHEM.

Mine Risk Education

Mine Risk Education Team One and Two of the UNMEE MACC deployed to Sector West, in the Sub zone of Lalay-Gash, and to Sector Center, in the Sub zone of Tserona. The teams conducted MRE activities for 800 local people from different age groups and gender living in areas affected by mines and explosive remnants of war.

The two MACC MRE teams will continue MRE activities in Sector West and Sector Center. The teams will also collect mine/UXO related informa-tion, including mine/UXO discovery or incident reports from the local communities.

The MRE Coordinator of the Force Mine Action Center (FMAC) in Asmara, collaborating in MRE activities with the MACC, also conducted Mine Risk Education (MRE) briefings to 12 newly ar-rived personnel from UNAIDS, UNV, and UNMO.

World Mine Action News

(The following articles were extracted from various News Agencies and organizations).

UN Cites Israeli Use of Antipersonnel Mines in South Lebanon
Source: http://www.icbl.org/news/israel_use_ap_mines

The UN Mine Action Coordination Center South Lebanon (UNMACC) has now said that it has con-firmed that antipersonnel mines laid by Israel were responsible for causing four casualties in three inci-dents on 24 and 25 November.

"By using antipersonnel mines in South Lebanon, Is-rael will have joined the infamously exclusive club of states still resorting to these barbaric weapons," said Sylvie Brigot, ICBL's Executive Director. Only the governments of Myanmar and Russia are thought to be actively laying antipersonnel mines today, in addi-tion to armed non-state groups in about 10 countries. "Any use of this indiscriminate weapon should be condemned, just like chemical weapons and other widely banned arms," said Ms. Brigot.

UNMACC has identified the mines as Israeli-produced Number 4 antipersonnel mines, and has stated that "these mines were laid during the recent conflict by Israeli troops with intent to interdict access to the immediate area." It noted that this is the "first evidence we have that the Israeli Forces laid new mines in South Lebanon in 2006," and said that the UN has asked Israel "for immediate provision of any information pertaining to this and any other land-mines laid during this recent conflict."

As recently as 13 November 2006, during a meeting in Geneva, Israeli officials denied to the ICBL that Is-raeli forces used antipersonnel mines in Lebanon. Israeli officials have told media that they are looking into the UN reports, but have said that it is possible the mines were laid by Hezbollah or Syria or by Israel during previous conflicts.

Israel is not one of the 152 countries that have joined the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty that comprehensively pro-hibits the use, production, trade and stockpiling of antipersonnel mines. But, Israel is party to Amended Protocol II of the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) which has some restrictions and requirements regarding the use of mines.

The ICBL calls on Israel immediately and conclu-sively to confirm or deny that it used antipersonnel mines in the recent conflict in Lebanon. If it confirms use, Israel should explain how its mine-laying was carried out in accordance with Amended Protocol II, which requires that antipersonnel mines must be "placed within a perimeter-marked area which is monitored by military personnel and protected by fenc-ing or other means, to ensure the effective exclusion of civilians from the area."

"The UN reports call into question whether Israel has abided by its legal obligations as a party to CCW Amended Protocol II on landmines," said Ms. Brigot. Furthermore, if it confirms use, Israel should immedi-ately provide to the UN all information needed "to pro-tect civilians from the effects of minefields," as well as technical and material assistance in clearance, as called for in Amended Protocol II. "In the name of avoiding any further unnecessary suffering to civilian Lebanese people and to clearance operators working to return lands to safe and productive use, we urge Israel to provide the United Nations with all relevant information on newly laid minefields," Ms. Brigot con-cluded.

This would constitute the first confirmed use of anti-personnel mines by Israel since its departure from Lebanon in 2000. Israel has repeatedly stated that it has not used antipersonnel mines in the conflicts in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel stopped production of antipersonnel mines a number of years ago, and has had a moratorium on export of the weapon since 1994.

Landmine activists urge action on cluster bombs

Source: Guelph Mercury (21 November, 2006)

Canadian activists who helped lead a campaign to ban landmines a decade ago have a new target -- cluster munitions. Mines Action Canada is urging the federal government to take a leading role in interna-tional efforts to ban the weapons, which the group says kill and maim civilians every day around the world.

Cluster munitions come as bombs or artillery shells. They spray dozens or even hundreds of deadly armour-piercing bomblets across a target. Those that don't explode can sit for years waiting to kill or maim unsuspecting civilians. In effect, said Paul Hannon, executive director of the group, the dud bomblets be-come a minefield.

The weapons are inaccurate, he said, because they are scattered over a wide area and because anywhere from five to 30 per cent of the bomblets don't explode on impact, posing a lethal threat long after the conflict is over.

Hannon said Israel and Hezbollah both used cluster munitions during the conflict in Lebanon last summer and the duds are still killing and wounding civilians. Habbouba Aoun of the Landmine Resource Center in Beirut said it's a terrible legacy.