Death toll rises in Lebanon, says aid organization

By September 5, 2006

Lebanon (MNN) — It’s been more than two weeks since the ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah, but the death toll continues to rise. Not because of more attacks, but because of unexploded ordnance, or UXO, left behind. Seventeen children were killed by UXOs in the first week alone after the ceasefire, World Vision is working hard to prevent citizens, especially children, from endangering their lives.

World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, is printing and distributing 100,000 posters and leaflets, along with providing teacher training kits, children’s games and books and securing television spots, all in an effort to educate Lebanese children and their families about the dangers of UXO.

Security Advisory with World Vision Ray Bonniwell says, “Children don’t recognize the UXOs for what they are. They’ll pick them up when they see them because they are naturally inquisitive.”

“We know this project will save people here, especially children, from injuries and death,” says Judy Moore, senior relief associate with World Vision. “There’s an absolute urgency to do this now because there are so few bomb disposal personnel in the country.”

More than 18,000 UXO — including rockets, mortars, artillery shells and cluster munitions — have fallen on fields, roads and buildings in south Lebanon creating a grave threat to returning civilians, as well as aid workers seeking access to their still-isolated communities.

It is expected to take months for the Lebanese army’s bomb squad to dispose of them, and this job is complicated by the fact that many of the UXO have already been covered by dust.

“Each bomb has enough explosive capacity to kill or seriously maim multiple people within a 5-to-15 foot radius,” explains Bonniwell.

Pray the effort will not only save lives, but as the World Vision team helps, their testimony will be a beacon of hope to those spiritually searching.

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