This month, MAG teams in Lebanon reached the amazing milestone: clearing 10,000 landmines from the country's southern border. Since beginning work in this region in April 2017, MAG has removed more anti-personnel landmines in Lebanon than anywhere else in the world, approximately one mine every 20 yards.
“Clearing 10,000 mines in such a short time is a huge achievement,” says Mark Russell, MAG Lebanon's Technical Operations Manager. “That's 10,000 lives potentially saved. None of it would have been possible without MAG’s dedicated staff, donors, and the Lebanese authorities and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank them all.”
Lebanon's southern border stretches over 75 miles, and at its peak was contaminated with approximately 400,000 landmines from conflicts in the 1980s, 90s and 2000s. The minefields are dense, cutting through fertile agricultural land that has remained off limits for communities.
Using demining staff and machines, MAG is removing landmines and returning desperately needed land at an ever-increasing rate, working in partnership with the Lebanon Mine Action Center and other organizations to incorporate new technologies and approaches to accelerate this work.
People like Hassan Hmade from Meiss Al Jabal, where there are 51 minefields, eagerly await access to this land so they can grow wheat, olives, and other crops.
“Landmines ensure that local people live in fear, knowing that one misstep could result in a devastating accident for them or their children,” says Dave Willey, MAG's country director for Lebanon. "It’s hard to imagine being afraid every time you leave your house but this is how people in the region have been forced to live until now.”
MAG’s ongoing clearance efforts on the Blue Line are not possible without the generous support of the U.S. Department of State, the governments of Japan, Sweden, Norway, and the United Kingdom, and support from individuals and family foundations. From all of us at MAG, thank you for making this work possible!