- Posted June 17, 2011 by
5 yrs since 2006 Lebanon Israel conflict - clearing cluster bombs with 1st all female BAC team
- ccostello3, CNN iReport producer
It has been five years since the massive use of cluster bombs in south Lebanon during the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel in July/August 2006. The horrendous impact it had on civilians - as widely reported in the media - helped kick-start the Oslo Process just a few months later. This led to the Convention on Cluster Munitions banning these weapons.
The UN estimates that Israel fired cluster bombs containing some 4 million submunitions into south Lebanon in 2006. Ninety percent of these were fired in the last 72 hours of battle. Around a quarter of these - around one million - failed to explode. Like landmines, cluster bombs remain a deadly threat to anyone in the area long after the conflict is over and need to be cleared.
Today there are around 24 Battle Area Clearance teams (BAC teams) working in south Lebanon, and only one all female team (working with Norwegian People's Aid). The UN estimates that together these teams have cleared around 60% of the cluster bombs and still have another 40% to go.
Lamis Zein is the first and only woman in Lebanon to be officially accredited blow up and destroy cluster munitions. She heads up the only all female team clearing cluster bombs in Lebanon (BAC team).
I met up with her at her house at 0430 AM in Tyr to start her day, meet her team and clear these deadly weapons.
Down near the border with Israel, I also met 12 year old Mohammad who lost a leg when he stepped on a cluster bomblet while tending sheep with his brother.
Lebanese government officials estimate that it will take an additional 75 million USD to clear the remaining contaminated 18.1 sq area of cluster munitions.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force on the first of August 2010. It bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions. Under this convention, states have ten years to clear contaminated areas.
From 12 -16 September 2011, the Government of Lebanon will host the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Beirut.
More than 100 governments are expected to take part in this meeting to report on progress to date on the 66 point action plan which was agreed at the First Meeting of States Parties in Laos in November 2010.