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“The mines have left deep mental scars on villagers”

Explosive weapons
Lebanon

Albert is the mayor of Mazraat Assaf, a village in Lebanon close to land mined during the civil war and now being cleared by HI’s mine clearance experts. 

Albert, Mayor of Mazraat Assaf

Albert, Mayor of Mazraat Assaf | © Oriane van den Broeck / HI

Albert was born in Mazraat Assaf. He lived through the civil war of 1975-1990 and now, as the village’s mayor, takes part in HI’s mine clearance operations. 

Restoring land to villagers 

Albert is one of the people whose land has been cleared of explosive devices by HI’s teams.

"The last time I could walk there was in the 1980s. It was wonderful to go back after all these years,"

he says.

Since becoming mayor, Albert has acted as a go-between for HI’s mine clearance experts and villagers. After the war, many sold their land, contaminated during the conflict, for next to nothing. Others left and simply abandoned it. Now it is safe to return to their land, Albert has been trying to find out who and where they are. 

Explosive devices: a threat to villagers 

The mine accidents that occurred in the immediate post-war years have left deep mental scars on villagers. “Some do not dare return, even after their land is cleared of weapons. The accidents have left their mark," says Albert. Initially, many people were not aware of the risks and some were injured by anti-personnel mines.

Since then, the Lebanon Mine Action Center, or LMAC, has raised awareness of the risks from explosive remnants of war among people living in the region and put up signs to mark hazardous areas. 

Hope of a prosperous future

Albert is optimistic: "I would like the villagers to use their land again, mainly to grow food but also to invest in bigger projects. One of them wants to plant a vineyard. If the idea works out, it might encourage other villagers to return and get involved in similar agricultural projects."

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