UN deminers in southern Lebanon to be honoured with top award

15 September 2008The United Nations refugee agency announced today that its top honour will go to the world body’s bomb disposal experts for their work in clearing explosives from southern Lebanon, which have been threatening the lives of civilians since the 2006 conflict with Israel. The Nansen Refugee Award will be given to the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre of South Lebanon for its efforts to rid the region of cluster munitions and other dangerous remnants of war to allow the safe return of civilians uprooted by the fighting two years ago.“Through their painstaking work and devotion, the team has created the conditions for a safe and dignified return home for almost one million displaced Lebanese,” said António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.Christopher Clark, who heads the mine clearing operation in Lebanon, will receive the award on behalf of the Centre’s staff and 1,000 deminers, along with a cheque for $100,000 to donate to a cause of their choice, at a ceremony in Geneva on 6 October.“I congratulate my colleagues in southern Lebanon for their impressive achievement,” said Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain LeRoy, whose department oversees the work of the Centre.“Their actions have benefited so many people – not only the returning refugees and internally displace persons (IDPs), but also the humanitarian relief workers and our peacekeepers,” he added.The award is named after Nobel Peace Laureate Fridtjof Nansen, who served as the first High Commissioner for Refugees. Previous recipients of the honour include Eleanor Roosevelt, King Juan Carlos I of Spain and Queen Juliana of the Netherlands.