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Emergency response

Risk Education in Lebanon 2006


MAG has a track record of responding quickly and efficiently to humanitarian emergencies that arise as a result of conflict, and has often been the first on the ground once the fighting has ceased.

MAG is recognised worldwide as an expert organisation providing the most realistic comprehensive solutions that minimise casualties while supporting rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Alongside emergency clearance and Mine Risk Education (MRE) to assist the safe return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees, MAG can also provide strategic planning and support to local and international authorities.

In Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and, in 2011, Tanzania and Libya, MAG’s response meant that thousands of people who fled conflict were able to return in safety and rebuild their shattered communities.

Photo [Sean Sutton/MAG]: A MAG Community Liaison Officer talks to children about the dangers littering their village, in Lebanon, 2006.

Libya 2011

A rapid response to this emergency was vital, to reduce the lethal damage these weapons and remnants of conflict can do – both to civilians and to other aid agencies needing safe access to people in need.

MAG was the first agency specialising in emergency response to landmine contamination, risks posed by unexploded ordnance (UXO) and unsecured stockpiles of munitions to have a presence in eastern Libya.

See also: MAG's response to the Libya crisis

Tanzania 2011

Video footage from Citizen TV

Twenty-four people were killed and more than 300 injured when a large military depot exploded in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam, on 16 February 2011.

Dangerous ammunition from the depot on Gongo la Mboto base was widely dispersed across the surrounding residential area, destroying many houses and leaving hundreds of people homeless. Rockets from the depot were projected as far away as 14 kilometres by the blast.

MAG responded to the emergency by sending one of our technical Explosive Ordnance Disposal experts, based in Rwanda, and our Nairobi-based Regional Community Liaison Manager, trained in the targeted delivery of Risk Education messages, to Dar es Salaam the day after the explosions.

See also: MAG responds to fallout from explosions in Dar es Salaam

Gaza 2009

The Israeli military operation and heavy bombardment of the Gaza Strip began in December 2008, with a ground operation commencing on 3 January 2009.

Twenty-two days of bombardment by land, air and sea followed, which left an estimated 1,300 Palestinians dead and thousands of others injured, according to the Palestine Ministry of Health.

An aircraft bomb in the Gaza Strip in early 2009.

An aircraft bomb in Gaza, early 2009.

Extensive destruction was caused to homes, infrastructure and aid agency installations – 50 UN buildings were reported to be damaged – throughout the Gaza Strip.

MAG deployed to Israel on 12 January 2009, to complete an assessment on the need for unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance in the region.

Working as an implementing partner of United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), MAG identified and prioritised communities affected by UXO for emergency clearance activities.

MAG’s emergency response project contributed to the post-conflict reconstruction efforts by ensuring as safe an environment as possible for the local population and development agencies.

Lebanon 2006

Lebanon was subjected to intense aerial, artillery and naval bombardment over the course of 34 days during July and August 2006. This was heaviest in the south and, as a result, an estimated 915,000 people fled their homes, travelling north and to neighbouring countries.

Following the ceasefire, MAG was the first humanitarian clearance non-governmental organisation providing an emergency response on the ground.

Clearing land close to a residential area in Lebanon

Clearing through the land close to a residential area in Marayoun near Nabatia, Lebanon, 2007.

The amount of unexploded ordnance (UXO) caused a significant risk to the lives and health of not only those attempting to return home, but also UN agencies and humanitarian aid organisations involved in the post-conflict relief and reconstruction effort.

In the immediate aftermath of the conflict, it was estimated by the National Demining Office that a person was killed or injured every 12 hours by UXO.

The Mine Action Co-ordination Centre South Lebanon (MACCSL) calculated that the extent of the contamination affected 32.7 million square metres of land.

Throughout the bombing, MAG staff were on the ground preparing for the emergency response, and MAG was an active participant in putting together the UN agencies’ Rapid Reaction Plan.

MAG deployed four emergency teams the day after the announcement of the ceasefire and, during the first week of operations, cleared 955 dangerous items, most of which were cluster bomblets, as well as recording 28 dangerous areas.

By the end of the year, priority clearance (as determined by MACCSL) of access routes, homes and gardens was completed, leaving MAG Lebanon’s operational teams to focus on the clearance of agricultural and pastoral areas, to assist the rehabilitation of local livelihoods.

Iraq 2002/3

As the largest non-governmental organisation in northern Iraq, MAG played a key coordinating role during the emergency phase, linking in with the wider humanitarian and relief effort.

In early 2002, MAG began planning its response to the impending conflict. This involved preparations to reduce the risks from the increased numbers of landmines, cluster bomb units and other explosive ordnance.

Demining in Iraq in 2003

A MAG deminer in Iraq, 2003.

Because the volume of ordnance would seriously disrupt the flow of humanitarian aid to those most in need, MAG worked with other non-governmental organisations to ensure that key operational activities would continue where possible.

A key element of the pre-conflict preparations was the provision of emergency Mine Risk Education (MRE).

During the war, MAG Iraq remained operational, assisting those most at risk from death and injury from landmines and UXO in northern Iraq. This included the distribution of MRE materials to people crossing the frontline into the north, and the rapid deployment of landmine, UXO and cluster bomb survey, clearance and demarcation teams into newly liberated areas.

MAG was able to move into key cities, such as Mosul and Kirkuk, on the day they were liberated, and reduce the number of casualties caused by the large amount of ordnance and newly laid mines. Huge volumes of ordnance were cleared, making a significant impact on the number of casualties.

We also established operations bases in newly liberated areas and cleared food distribution points, access routes and water sources in support of other humanitarian agencies, enabling them to implement their own projects.

See also:

MAG chosen for new UK disaster response network

About MAG

MAG (Mines Advisory Group) saves and improves lives by reducing the devastating effects armed violence and remnants of conflict have on people around the world.
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Co-laureate of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize  |  Registered as a charitable company in the UK  |  Company no: 4016409  Charity no: 1083008  |  ISO 9001:2008 accredited  |  International Mine Action Standards compliant  |  Signatory of the ICRC Code of Conduct  |  Member of the Fundraising Standards Board scheme  |  Registered office: Suite 3A, South Central, 11 Peter Street, Manchester, M2 5QR, United Kingdom