Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York

23 May 2002

New Phase of Operation Emirates Solidarity Will Be Launched in South Lebanon

Beirut, 23 May 2002 (UN Information Centre) - The second phase of Operation Emirates Solidarity (OES), the $50 million project funded by the United Arab Emirates for the demining of south Lebanon, will be launched officially in the course of a ceremony in south Lebanon on 28 May 2002. Attending the ceremony will be the Minister of Defence, H.E. Khalil Hrawi, the UAE Minister of Information, H.E. Sheikh Abdallah, the United States Ambassador to Lebanon, H.E. Vincent Battle, the Director of the National Demining Office (NDO), General Georges Masaad, the Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for southern Lebanon, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, and members of the International Support Group (ISG) for mine action in Lebanon. The event will be held in the course of a visit to an operational demining site.

The.official launch of phase Il of OES marks' the achievement of a target that was set one year ago at the High Level Workshop on Demining. The arrival of the two international companies under the project and their speedy initialization of demining activities show that this target is in the course of being fulfilled. Concrete progress on the ground is being made as day-by-day, mines are being removed at an increasing rate. As a result, land that was once not only dangerous but also unusable will gradually, but surely, become effective once again. Such progress has been made possible by the high level of international cooperation among the various parties through the framework of the International Support Group (ISG) for mine action in Lebanon, the fifth meeting of which will be convened at the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre (MACC) in Tyre subsequent to the site visit on 28 May.

The meeting will be chaired by the Minister of Defence and co-chaired by Ambassador Battle. Participants will be briefed on the progress of the four working groups on operational demining, mine awareness, mine victim assistance and socio-economic development respectively. The meeting, which will be attended by the UNIFIL Force Commander, Major-General Lalit Tewari, will provide participants to take stock of what has been accomplished to date in the demining of south Lebanon, to assess what future requirements will be and to announce any new initiatives to assist Lebanon in its demining activities.

For information media - not an official record