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Country Reports
LEBANON, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

Lebanon has not signed the Mine Ban Treaty and it showed little interest in the Ottawa Process. While it did not attend treaty preparatory meetings early in 1997, the government came to the Brussels conference in June 1997 but did not endorse the pro-treaty Final Declaration, nor did it participate in the treaty negotiations in Oslo. It attended the Mine Ban Treaty signing conference in Ottawa as an observer. Somewhat surprisingly then, Lebanon voted in favor of all three key pro-ban UN General Assembly resolutions in 1996, 1997, and 1998.

At the Brussels Conference in June 1997, the Lebanese government representative said, “At the moment, Lebanon cannot sign any treaty that has negative implications on national resistance against Israel in South Lebanon.... Lebanon suggests that the Treaty must contain clear items taking into consideration the self-defense principle, the state of occupied territories and the legal rights of member countries of the United Nations. But, a non-signatory state should not be deprived of any assistance in support of demining and other related mine related actions. Lebanon will sign the Treaty whenever Israel withdraws.”[1]

The Foreign Ministry reiterated the government’s position in December 1998: “Lebanon agrees to and appreciates all noble principles and objectives of the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty. However, Lebanon did not sign the Treaty due to the Israeli occupation of West Bekaa and South Lebanon. Israel is still laying landmines in South Lebanon. Lebanon sees that all countries, signatory and non-signatory, should benefit from assistance in mine clearance and mine action.”[2]

While this official position is clear, discussion about the landmine issue and the Treaty inside the country is beginning to take place. On 11-12 February 1999 the “Regional Conference on the Menace of Landmines in the Arab Countries” took place in Beirut. Organized by the non-governmental Landmines Resource Center in collaboration with the Lebanese Army, the conference was supported financially by Canada, Norway, the United Kingdom, the ICBL and other organizations.[3] The conference brought together representatives from the governments and armies of a large number of the Arab countries, in addition to the ICBL and other non-governmental organizations from Arab and non-Arab countries, and international organizations such as UNICEF and the UNDP.

The Conference sought to begin developing collaboration and coordination among various parties on issues related to landmines and their eventual elimination. These issues included the exchange of data and information; a better understanding of the needs of mine-affected communities; advocacy and building public awareness; mobilizing and expanding resources; as well as expanding and institutionalizing commitments. The emphasis was on the importance of involvement and partnership among all concerned – particularly with community members and the armed forces –to develop a sustainable framework to achieve these goals. The final statement called for more financial assistance and support for mine action programs, but did not mention the Mine Ban Treaty.

Lebanon is a non-signatory of the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, and Use

Lebanon is not believed to have either produced or exported antipersonnel mines. There are no formal restrictions on production or trade in place. During the war, the government of Lebanon imported mines from a number of different countries. The United States sold Lebanon 5,352 M18A1 Claymore antipersonnel landmines in 1983-84.[4] Details on other suppliers are not available. The Lebanese Army has a stockpile of antipersonnel mines, but the size and composition is unknown.

In the ongoing conflict in south Lebanon, mines continue to be used by both Israel and non-state actors. In February 1999, Lebanon accused Israel of laying landmines along a fence in the village of Arnoun.[5] The Israel/Lebanon Monitoring Group is examining the matter. Non-state actors in Lebanon, notably Hezbollah, have used both mines and improvised explosive devices, some of which may have been manufactured locally, and others obtained from external sources. It is likely that various armed groups in Lebanon have their own stockpiles of mines. It has been reported that Hezbollah’s arsenal includes landmines, though more frequently it has used improvised explosive devices.[6]

Landmine Problem

Lebanon is recovering from fifteen years of civil conflict (1975-1990). The fighting involved many armed forces and factions, foreign and domestic -- both government and non-state actors. At one time or another, virtually all parties to the conflict used landmines. Fighting--and mine use--continues in Israeli-occupied southern Lebanon.

Estimates of the number of mines and minefields in Lebanon vary greatly, and in most cases, the figures cited do not include mines in southern Lebanon. According to the United Nations, there are approximately 8,795 landmines in the ground in Lebanon,[7] but the U.S. State Department gives a range of between 8,795 and 35,000 landmines in Lebanon, in some 182 minefields.[8]

The Lebanese Army has said that “Lebanon is asking the world’s assistance in clearing the more than 200,000 Russian, U.S., Chinese, and Israeli landmines littering the country.”[9] But at the Regional Conference in February, the Army estimated that there are 681 minefields containing 28,508 mines, with another 868 suspected minefields containing 28,500 mines, excluding the Israeli-occupied regions of the South and West Bekaa.[10] Mines can be found in both urban and rural areas and there are virtually no maps.[11] In 1997, the Army said that the most endangered region is the eastern Bekaa Vally, where about 11 tons of mines and UXO are scattered in 70 square kilometer area inhabited by 20,000 people.[12]

As of July 1995, the following areas still had uncleared landmines:

1) Beirut - along the “green line,” the old demarcation line;

2) North Metn - Wadi Jamajem, Sanine, Ain Teffahah, and Zeghrine;

3) Upper Metn - along the old demarcation line of Krayeh, Raas El Harf, and Aarbaniyeh;

4) Kessrouan - Ouyan Al Siman and Wadi Jeiita;

5) Byblos and Batroun - along the old demarcation lines (Ferghal, Bekhaz, Chebtine);

6) Chouf - along the old demarcation lines (Chahar Gharbi, Dayr al Kamar, and Barouk);

7) Souk el Gharb - along the old demarcation line (Souk el Gharb, Kayfoun, Kmatiyeh, Aytat, Bsaba and Maaroufiyeh);

8) Bekaa al Gharbi - Falouj.[13]

A mine survey was conducted in December 1996 through a project of the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health and the Association for the Welfare of the Disabled and the Elderly in Rashayya and West Bekaa. The project was implemented with technical and material assistance from the World Rehabilitation Fund. Other non-governmental organizations and community-based groups participated actively. The survey confirmed the seriousness of the landmine situation in Lebanon.

Mine Clearance

In Lebanon, mine clearance is carried out exclusively by the Army. It reports that from the end of the war in 1990 to June 1995, some 298 minefields were cleared and 15,250 AP mines destroyed.[14] The U.S. Department of Defense is providing support for the creation of the National Demining Office in the Lebanese Army, including training, equipment and operational costs. U.S. commitment to that project is US$6,134,000.[15] The French Army is also involved with technical assistance to the Lebanese Army. In addition, France has been involved in mine clearance around its embassy.

The number of trained clearance professionals in the Army is not adequate, which, coupled with limited material resources, hinders demining operations. As in too many countries in the world, clearance operations are also affected by incomplete information as to the size of the problem and the exact location and dimensions of all minefields. The terrain of Lebanon presents an additional difficulty and challenge; rocky mountainous terrain hampers all clearance efforts. Mine clearance teams suffered many casualties when they tried to first neutralize the mines in place and then remove them to be destroyed by explosives in a central location. Whenever possible, mines are now destroyed in place with explosives.[16]

The Army has found the following antipersonnel mines in the process of mine clearance: PRBM35 and PRBNR413 (Belgium); TYPE72A (China); PPMISR (Czech Republic); APEDF1, APDV51 and APDV59 (France); GYATA (Hungary); N4, N10 and M12A1 (Israel); VS50 and P25 (Italy) MAPS (Portugal)POMZ2, PMD, PMD6M, PMN2, PMN6 and MON-50 (Russia); FFV013 (Sweden); M14 and M18 (USA).[17]

Mine Awareness

Mine awareness and related education was very limited until the initiation of the World Rehabilitation Fund project in June of 1998. Until then, mine awareness activities included a poster designed, printed and distributed in 1996 by the Welfare Association for the Disabled and the Elderly in the area of West Bekaa; a conference in 1997 to disseminate the results of a survey of mine victims in the area of West Bekaa; a national conference in February 1998; and limited community meetings and meetings with decision makers. In addition, the ICRC has been active throughout Lebanon, distributing 50,000 pocket calendars and 300 wall calendars in support of the landmine campaign in 1997. Hezbollah members were among the recipients.[18]

In 1998, USAID approved $600,000 to support of a project of the World Rehabilitation Fund. The publicity campaign, “Preventing landmines Injuries and Managing The Social Burden Of Landmines In Lebanon,” targets schools, public meetings and municipal councils.[19] This project has resulted in a remarkable increase in the number, scope and coverage of mine awareness activities implemented with NGO and community-based organizations. Activities include: community meetings, lectures, workshops and discussion sessions; posters, brochures, booklets, pamphlets and other widely-distributed printed materials; and radio and television programs. Target populations are groups at risk of injuries because of residing in mine-infested areas or in areas close to minefields. Particular attention is focused on children and individuals involved with farming related activities. The National Demining Office has cooperated with these mine awareness activities and has produced two posters and one pamphlet related to the issue.

Landmine Casualties

Information about landmine casualties is incomplete and often unavailable. The first formal attempt to gauge the magnitude of the problem was a survey of victims conducted in fifty-two villages in the Region of West Bekaa near the end of 1996. The survey exposed many facets of the problem and gave a feel of the overwhelming resulting socio-economic burden.

The National Prosthetics and Orthotics Technical Unit of the Ministry of Health, established in 1995 in collaboration with the World Rehabilitation Fund, indicates that more than 35% of individuals in need of prosthetic and orthotic devices and services are survivors of landmine injuries. The Ministry of Health has estimated that over a 15-year period landmines have killed 189 people and disabled 212 others.[20] Available data shows that injuries due to landmines and unexploded ordnance occurred in different parts of Lebanon with clustering in regions of the South and West Bekaa where it is estimated that 60% of the injuries are due to unexploded ordnance.[21]

The Landmines Resource Center is currently spearheading and coordinating a nation-wide door-to-door survey in an effort to gain detailed understanding of the profile of victims and survivors, the nature and location of injuries and related needs. The survey was initiated late in August 1998 and results are expected by the second half of 1999. At this stage, the Landmines Resource Center is able to report the following:

* it is currently estimated that there are more than 1,200 mine survivors, including children and adults,

* injuries are still occurring at an average rate of one per week, with a higher proportion of males than females.

* there is one death for every one surviving injured person,

* there is around one landmine related injury (survivor/victim) for every 250 individuals in “risky” areas,

* the majority of survivors were injured while engaged in agricultural activities in the immediate vicinity or within walking distance of their homes.

Landmine Survivor Assistance

Programs to assist survivors, families of victims and mine-affected communities are scarce. Various social welfare, assistance and development programs, and activities implemented by governmental bodies, NGOs and community-based organizations attempt to meet these needs, but the programs are inadequately funded and limited in scope and range of services.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), under the auspices of the Patrick J. Leahy War Victims Fund which provides prostheses to mine victims, provided to Lebanon a total of just over $2 million dollars 1989 and 1991 fund.[22]

The Lebanese Government supports programs of the Ministries of Health and Social Affairs, but funds are extremely limited, and dedicated programs are non-existent.

First aid and emergency care are not readily available, and often absent, particularly in rural areas where injuries in farmland is common. Emergency transport is deficient as well as the skills of those providing first aid. Additionally, the skills and knowledge of “front-line” surgeons in medical and surgical management of landmine injuries is limited. This has an adverse impact on limiting the damage secondary to injury and results in delays and complications in rehabilitation services, particularly when there is need for prosthetic and orthotic devices.

Rehabilitation and social integration services targeting survivors are limited and mostly restricted to physical rehabilitation services. There are thirty-four prosthetic workshops in Lebanon and survivors receive a prosthetic from the Ministry of Health through a contracted workshop. Programs addressing the psychological needs of survivors are practically non-existent. Also, there is limited awareness among victims of available assistance and rehabilitation programs, particularly in rural areas. There are no known outreach programs. Survivors and their families have to seek services and have to cross and handle many barriers in the process. Services targeting families of victims are practically non-existent. The only related services are those targeting orphans.


[1]Letter from Thafer Al Hassan, General Secretary of the Foreign Ministry of Lebanon, read by Lebanese representative at the Brussels International Conference for the Total Ban on Antipersonnel Landmines, 24-27 June 1997.

[2]Letter from Thafer Al Hassan, General Secretary of the Foreign Ministry of Lebanon to Landmine Monitor, Beirut, 18 December 1998.

[3]ICBL representatives were able to meet with Prime Minister Hoss, who did not move beyond the official position. There also were informal discussions with members of parliament and the business community, and also the opportunity to speak with various military informally. In these settings, it was possible to de-link somewhat the MBT from Israeli occupation. Some noted one important issue was the position of Syria vis-a-vis the Treaty and that Lebanon would take its lead from Syria. Some military privately voiced support for a ban, but noted it was too early to publicly say so. (Landmine Monitor intervew with Jody Williams, ICBL Ambassador, 29 March 1999.)

[4]U.S. Army, Armament, Munitions, and Chemical Command (USAMCCOM), Letter to Human Rights Watch, 25 August 1993, and attached statistical tables.

[5]“U.S. Department of State - Press Statement by James B. Foley, Deputy Spokesman,” M2 Presswire, 25 February 1999.

[6]See, for example, Edward Ezell, Small Arms World Report, Vol 4, No. 4 (December 1993), p. 26

[7]United Nations, Country Report: Lebanon, at http://www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/country/lebanon.htm.

[8]U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Political Military Affairs, Hidden Killers: The Global Landmine Crisis, (Washington: Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs, 1998), p. A-2; Hidden Killers, July 1993, p. 116; Hidden Killers, December 1994, p. 21.

[9]United Nations, Country Report.

[10]Lebanese Army report, given at the Regional Conference on the Menace of Landmines in the Arab Countries, Beirut, 11-12 February 1999.

[11]Hidden Killers, 1993, p. 116; Hidden Killers, 1994, p. 21.

[12]“Over 200,000 Landmines Threaten the Lebanese,” Agence France Presse, 30 March 1997.

[13]United Nations, Country Report.


[15]United Nations, “Mine Action Bilateral Donor Support,” 4th Edition, 16 November 1998.

[16]United Nations, Country Report.

[17]Lebanese Army report, given at the Regional Conference on the Menace of Landmines in the Arab Countries, Beirut, 11-12 February 1999. A somewhat different list of mines found in Lebanon can be seen on the UN website at http://www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/country/lebanon.htm

[18]International Committee of the Red Cross, Annual Report 1997, 1 June 1998.

[19]Nicholas Blanford, “US Backs New Campaign to End the Lethal Land Mine Scourge,” The Daily Star (Lebanon), 5 September 1998.

[20]Agence France Presse, 30 March 1997.

[21]Survey of landmine victims conducted by the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health and the Welfare Association for the Disabled and the Elderly, December 1996.

[22]Portfolio Synopsis: Patrick J. Leahy War Victims Fund, United States Agency for International Development, October 1997.