Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence

Letter to Richard Cooke, Parliamentary Relations and Devolution Team, Foreign and Commonwealth Office from the Committee Specialist

  In his letter to the Committee dated 23 May 2006, the Minister for the Middle East, Dr Kim Howells, estimated that it would take 12-15 months to clear south Lebanon of the unexploded cluster bomblets remaining from the Lebanon war in 2006.

  When the Committee visited Lebanon in March of this year, it was told by the United Nations that the target date to clear south Lebanon from cluster munitions was December 2007. We were told that it was important to meet this deadline in order to avoid a significant knock-on effect to Lebanon's recovery from the war. The UN told us that $1.2 million extra would be required to meet this deadline.

  Dr Howells' estimate of May-August 2008 as the completion date for clearance is at odds with the estimate provided to the Committee by the UN on the ground. The Committee would be grateful if the FCO could point out the reasons for this discrepancy. It would also be useful if the FCO could confirm whether the UN's target date of December 2007 will now not be met.

  As the Committee is in the final stages of its deliberations in its Global Security: the Middle East inquiry, it has asked for an urgent response to this letter.

Imran Shafi

6 July 2007

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