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Help for Syrian Refugees Facing Landmine and Bomb Threat in Lebanon

by MAG (Mines Advisory Group) | @MAGsaveslives | MAG (Mines Advisory Group)
Wednesday, 29 October 2014 12:25 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In Lebanon’s bomb-riddled Bekaa Valley, MAG is making land safe for men, women and children fleeing violence in Syria.

The ongoing crisis in Syria has led to more than 3.2 million people fleeing to neighbouring countries. Over one-and-a-half million Syrians have sought sanctuary in Lebanon, with 400,000 currently living in informal settlements across the Bekaa Valley.

Escaping the violence in their home country, refugees arrive in Lebanon to find a country still suffering from its own legacy of conflict. Previous civil wars have resulted in widespread contamination from landmines and other explosive weapons throughout Lebanon, with the Bekaa Valley one of the most affected regions.

Here MAG, supported by the Dutch Refugee Foundation (Stichting Vluchteling), has been working to address these fresh humanitarian concerns. As well as clearing landmines and other explosive weapons from areas where people are settling, teams have been delivering safety messages to help keep refugees – half of whom are children – safe.  

Nine-year-old Nouhad Al Atlasi is one of the 3,500 people living in Baaloul, West Bekaa to have benefited from MAG’s work.

He arrived from Syria with his parents and now works with his family and other refugees in a potato plantation adjacent to a marked minefield.
“One night the situation was not bearable anymore in Syria. We fled to Lebanon with nothing. I only felt safe after hearing that MAG was clearing [the land] here.”

Khallouf Omar, a 25-year-old shepherd, recalled his experience: “When we fled to Lebanon we came across many cluster bombs dating from 1982. The first lesson I learned was how to report the danger.

“I teach that lesson to all that may need it, especially my siblings and other refugees from Syria.”

MAG has been working in Lebanon since 2000.

Fore more information on MAG's work in Lebanon, please go to www.maginternational.org/lebanon.