Church agency warns over unexploded munitions in Lebanon
The UK-based international development agency Christian Aid has warned that displaced Lebanese civilians returning home when a ceasefire is agreed will need to be on their guard against unexploded cluster bombs and other munitions.
According to experts, Israeli forces have been firing around 3,000 rockets, artillery shells, cluster bombs and other munitions into Lebanon each day for the past 27 days of the conflict.
It is estimated that around 10 per cent of these munitions have not exploded, so it is likely there are more than 7,000 unexploded munitions across the conflict zone.
Speaking from Beirut, Christian Aidís security manager, Kiruja Micheni, said: ìIf there is a ceasefire, the 900,000 people believed to have fled the fighting will want to return home. But there is a danger that they could be injured or killed by unexploded ordnance, including cluster bombs.î
He added: ìAid workers too, need to do proper risk assessments before setting up operations in the south. This ordinance will slow down the relief effort, but proper precautions must be taken.î
Andrew Gleeson of the UK-based Mines Action Group (MAG) said this ordnance would be highly unstable and could detonate easily if moved.
Mr Gleeson, a former British army bomb disposal expert, said: ìThe explosive material will deteriorate over time. Heat and rain will make the material less stable.î
The Lebanese government is working with the United Nations and MAG on a 12-week emergency action plan to deal with the worst of the problem, once a ceasefire is agreed.
In another development today, the UN warned that there was only seven to eight daysí worth of fuel left in Lebanon.
Dominic Nutt, Christian Aidís emergencies specialist in Beirut said: ìIf fuel runs out this will have a major effect on the displaced Lebanese population. Many are living in cramped conditions, in schools and other public buildings and rely on clean water which is brought in daily by trucks.î
Explained Hutt: ìWithout fuel the water and food supply to these people will be cut resulting in the quick onset of disease.î
There are three ships anchored off the Lebanese coast laden with fuel ñ two are government ships and the third is a UN ship with fuel to supply the United Nations aid effort.
But the government of Israel has so far not given permission for them to offload the fuel.
ìThis is not acceptable,î said Mr Nutt. ìThe Israeli government is morally and legal obliged to allow this fuel into the country.î