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MAG sends in staff from northern Iraq

MAG has sent a special team from Iraq into Lebanon to help get rid of the thousands of cluster bombs and other unexploded munitions from the villages and towns in the south of the country.

MAG's technical field manager, Salaam Mohammed Amin, leading the 19 highly-trained Iraqi-Kurd technicians, said: "Our staff cleared more than a million unexploded items in just one year in Iraq. It meant we helped reduce civilian victim rates after the conflict from a devastating high of around 500 per month to nearer three per month today - we hope to help the people of Lebanon in the same way."

The charity is also bringing in much-needed safety equipment, high-powered metal detectors and mapping equipment to speed up the conflict recovery operations. Executive director, Lou McGrath, said: "Lives depend on our work. Thankfully we're able to draw on existing resources from other countries to help our 80 staff in Lebanon. With almost 3000 trained staff around the world, MAG could do so much more with additional funds and support."

The teams will be concentrating on clearing from homes, schools, gardens, access routes and other populated areas in the Nabatieh region, as well as providing education programmes to manage the risk to thousands of returnees. The UN recently stated that they have seen around 100,000 unexploded cluster bomblets at 359 separate sites in Lebanon and, according to figures from the Lebanese military, there have been 39 injuries and 8 deaths - though these figures are rising. MAG thanks the Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Centre and the General Directorate of Mine Action of the Kurdistan Regional Government for their support in this iniative