Arab News Japan
The Government of Japan has extended a grant amounting to $628,160 (¥66,251,744.25) to the Mines Advisory Group through the Grant Assistance for Grass-roots Human Security Program for a landmine-clearance project in Lebanon, as part of its ongoing efforts to support the disaster-stricken country’s security and stability.
The grant supports activities implemented by MAG to remove mines in Houla, Meiss El Jabal and Markaba villages in the Nabatieh Governorate, southern Lebanon.
MAG, a British charity that works to clear unexploded ordnance from places affected by conflict, has cleared 83,885 square meters of land in Lebanon through this grant. The cleared land will be used for both, agricultural and residential purposes, which will benefit around 22,490 residents and Syrian refugees in the area, according to a press release by the Embassy of Japan in Lebanon.
In celebration of the project, the Japanese Ambassador to Lebanon Takeshi Okubo attended an online inauguration ceremony on September 24.
The virtual ceremony was attended by the Country Director of MAG Sylvain Lefort, the Mayor of the Meiss El Jabal municipality Abed Al Monain Shokair, the Director of the Lebanon Mine Action Centre Brigadier General Jihad Bechalaney and the representatives of the project’s beneficiaries.
The ceremony started with the national anthems of Japan and Lebanon, followed by the official handover of cleared landmines to residents. During the ceremony, videos of the de-mining equipment that was purchased, the cleared landmines and congratulatory remarks from representatives of each party were played.
In his speech at the event, Lefort expressed his appreciation towards Japan’s generous assistance through the provision of the grant and assured his continuous commitment to support the clearance of the remaining contaminated lands in the area.
Lefort’s sentiments were echoed by Bechalaney and Mayor Shokair, who also showed their gratitude for Japan’s continuous support in Lebanon’s mine action field.
A representative of the residents, Mostafa Karout, extended his appreciation towards Japan’s contribution in the process of removing landmines from their towns.
In concluding the inauguration, Okubo commended MAG and LAMC for their support of the affected communities and reiterated Japan’s readiness to continue to support Lebanon as it reels from an economic crisis, the coronavirus pandemic and the tragic August 4 Port of Beirut explosion.