Almost 40 years ago, two villages in northeast Lebanon were devastated by a barrage of cluster bombs.
Younin and Shaaet were a target for the Israeli forces during a bitter conflict that raged for four months in the summer of 1982.
Decades later and much of the land remains unsafe due to unexploded cluster bombs that litter the area.
More than 640,000 square metres of land remain hazardous across Arsal. That is the equivalent of 90 football pitches.
Cluster bombs fail to explode when they're dropped for a variety of reasons, but their impact on communities is always the same: they trap families in fear.
This is a fact that is all too real for local resident Mr Abou Ismail, whose garden is strewn with unexploded cluster bombs.
"My daughter found more than 20 cluster munitions in our garden, but the real tragedy was when her son carried a cluster munition from the garden,” he told us. “He was lucky to survive the incident.”
Mr Ibrahim Dorra, the mayor of Younin, explained that many in the community weren't so lucky; "cluster munitions killed two innocent children in front of their home... there is no doubt we don't feel safe."
Like landmines, cluster bombs also prevent villages, towns and cities from developing and rob communities of economic opportunities.
"The contamination affected the whole village,” says Mr Ali Attar, the mayor of Shaaet. “It reached all the vital places. Locals found about 40 cluster munitions in different places, such as water channels, farms, houses, and agricultural lands.”
The contamination affected the whole village, it reached all the vital places. Locals found about 40 cluster munitions in different places, such as water channels, farms, houses, and agricultural lands.
Mr Ali Attar, Mayor of Shaaet
The unexploded bombs not only threaten Lebanese communities but also refugees that have fled the horrors of the war in Syria, just over the border.
Mohamad Al Hassan is one of those who was forced to flee Syria and make for the refugee camps in Lebanon.
"I escaped from my country seeking safety, but danger still surrounds us daily,” he says. “We found cluster munitions inside the camp, which scares all of us. We do not feel safe anymore.”
MAG has been working in Lebanon for almost 20 years and in 2019 alone we found and destroyed over 17,000 deadly landmines and cluster munitions.
In partnership with Norwegian People’s Aid through funding from the EU and the US State Department, MAG’s work to clear Younin and Shaaet has just begun.
This is a welcome relief for the community.
"MAG is our economic saviour and our safety net,” says Mr Attar. “It is time to free the village from the danger of cluster munitions, and to allow us to use our lands again.”
MAG'S WORK IN LEBANON IN 2019
Dangerous items found and destroyed
OUR WORK IN YOUNIN AND SHAAET IS SUPPORTED BY
US State Department
Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs