By Niu Yanli
BEIRUT, June 12 -- The 18th Chinese peacekeeping multi-functional engineer contingent to Lebanon went to the area near the "Blue Line" between Lebanon and Israel to carry out humanitarian demining missions recently. This marks the official resumption of humanitarian mine clearance operations by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) that had been interrupted for 10 years.
Chinese demining peacekeepers to Lebanon have passed the qualification assessments conducted by the UN and Lebanon authorities separately in April this year. After preliminary minefield survey, they had been to the new minefield for the first time on June 1, but were forced to return because of the sensitive and complicated local situation. After coordination by the Lebanese government forces, Chinese minesweepers were able to enter the minefield three days later.
The new minefield is an anti-tank minefield. This time, Chinese peacekeepers divided the field area according to various functions and identified safe and dangerous zones with cordon. The mine-clearing work is carried out in an orderly manner. As of June 10, they have cleared 60 square meters in the new minefield.
Humanitarian mine clearance is an operation aiming to restore the safe living environment and the normal use of land for the local people. From 2006 to 2010, UNIFIL carried out humanitarian mine clearance within the framework of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701. For various reasons, this operation was suspended in 2010. Since then, UNIFIL has focused on combat mine clearance operations, mainly to provide security for the operations such as "Blue Line" identification, "Blue Line" patrols, and channel maintenance.
In January this year, the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the United Nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Humanitarian Demining, which authorized UNIFIL to carry out humanitarian demining operations within the UN Mission’s area of operation in south Lebanon.