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UNMEE MACC weekly update: 1 Dec 2006

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The Route Clearance Team (RCT) of the MACC con-tinued to verify mine threats on roads, riverbeds, verges of roads and minefields in Sector Center. The Integrated Demining Capacity (IDC) teams also de-ployed to Egri Mekel minefield in the Tserona area, Sector Center, within the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ). The teams cleared an area of 26,065 m² and 20.1 kms of road in the area. The teams discovered 12 unexploded ordnance (UXO) items.

The Programme Manager of the MECHEM reported the status of the deminers, that were injured in the Wulisho incident. According to his report, Mr.Pieter Schoeman was released from hospital on 17 November 2006 and Mr. Dzingirai Jaricha has been moved to a step-down facility for rehabilitation on 1 December 2006.

The MACC Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team based in Ethiopia conducted unexploded ordnance (UXO) demolition tasks in the Zelambesa area, in Sector Center. The EOD team destroyed 12 UXO items in Betqorqos and Fatsi villages, in Sector Center.

The Force Mine Action Liaison Officer (FMALO) of the MACC held meetings with UNMO and SOPSO, and Indian Battalion Military Observers operating south of the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) in Sector Center. The Liaison Officer also met with local authorities in the area and discussed mine action operations necessary in the near future.

The Project Officer of Demining for Demarcation together with Quality Assurance personnel deployed to Shilalo in Sector West to inspect tasks completed by the team.

Medical Coordinator of the UNMEE MACC conducted First Aid training for three newly recruited national staff members. The Medic will continue to conduct First Aid refresher course to the HQ's national staff members.

Mine Risk Education

The UNMEE MACC Mine Risk Education teams con-tinued to provide mine awareness briefings during MRE 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 503 local people from different age groups and gender living in areas af-fected by mines and explosive remnants of war.

The MRE Coordinator of the Force Mine Ac-tion Center (FMAC) in Asmara, collaborating with the MACC in MRE activities, also con-ducted Mine Risk Education (MRE) briefings to 99 newly arrived military contingent mem-bers and 01 UNMEE ITU staff.

Mine Action Liaison Officer (MALO) in Addis conducted MRE awareness briefings to the newly arrived United Nation Military Observer (UNMO) from Poland in the mission.

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: First evidence of mine-laying; four injured in three incidents

Source: http://www.icbl.org/news/israel_use_ap_mines

28 November 2006. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) expresses grave concern over reports from the United Nations that Israeli armed forces used antipersonnel mines during the recent conflict in Lebanon. The UN Mine Action Coor-dination Center South Lebanon (UNMACC) has now said that it has confirmed that antipersonnel mines laid by Israel were responsible for causing four casu-alties in three incidents 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 fencing or other means, to ensure the effective exclu-sion 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.

On 24 November, a deminer for ArmorGroup engaged in the clearance of Israeli-dropped cluster submuni-tions stepped on an antipersonnel mine in the area of Deir Mimas village. Another deminer stepped on a mine as he went to assist the first man, injuring him-self and a medic. The following day, another operator was injured as he was carrying out clearance of the newly discovered minefield. The ICBL expresses solidarity with these mine action operators injured while carrying out their humanitarian work in south Lebanon. Israel has been widely criticized for its extensive use of cluster munitions in south Lebanon, including in ci-vilian areas. The UN has estimated that Israel fired as many as four million cluster submunitions into south Lebanon, leaving behind as many as one million haz-ardous "duds" that failed to explode on contact and now pose the same dangers as antipersonnel mines.

On 23 October 2006, Montenegro deposited its instrument of succession to the Mine Ban Treaty, thus becoming the 152nd State Party to the treaty.

After the split of Serbia-Montenegro, a State Party since 2003, Serbia automatically remained as a State Party and the ICBL wrote to the Montenegro Minister of Foreign Affairs urging him to clarify his country's status regarding the MBT. Together, Serbia and Montenegro had begun to destroy stockpiled antipersonnel mines in August 2005 and by March 2006 had destroyed 649,217 mines, almost half of the total stock-pile. In Montenegro, the Regional Center for Underwa-ter Demining initiated a general survey of contamina-tion in Plav and Rozaje municipalities in May 2006. No civilian casualties were reported during 2005.