Mediterranean Assistance Unit deployment - Lebanon March 2021 – Apr 08, 2021

On 9 March 2021, REMPEC received a request for assistance from the Lebanese authorities regarding patches of black petroleum and tar balls that were found in coastal areas, mostly in the South, in particular in Nakoura, El Bayada, El Mansouri and in the Tyr protected areas (Chawatina, Sour Rest house), as well as the protected areas of El Abbasiyeh.

Under the leadership of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), a coordination team was established involving representatives of the United Nations Resident Coordinator (UNRC) in Lebanon, the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UNHABITAT) and REMPEC.

On 23 March 2021 REMPEC deployed two experts of the Mediterranean Assistance Unit (MAU) to the affected coastal areas in Lebanon. The experts, who are affiliated with the Adriatic Training and Research Centre for Accidental Marine Pollution Preparedness and Response (ATRAC), were tasked with assessing the extent of the pollution, assisting national and local authorities in ongoing clean-up and remediation operations, and providing guidance on oiled waste management.

On the first day of the mission, a set of meetings were organised with the Ministry of Environment as well as representatives from the United Nations organisations, referred above, which had provided immediate support to the authorities, in the early phase of the pollution. From 24 to 29 March, the MAU experts carried out ground shoreline surveys starting from the most southern point of Lebanon i.e., close to the Lebanon - Israel border, in the City of Naqoura; to the north of Beirut with a final survey in Byblos. The extent of the polluted shoreline was estimated to 30 kilometres.

On 30 and 31 April, brainstorming and conclusions meetings were organised with UNRC and research institutions and a workshop on response operations and waste management was delivered to local municipalities.

The mission was completed on 1 April with debriefing sessions with the Minister of Environment and UNRC.

The UNEP/MAP-Barcelona Convention Secretariat and REMPEC are committed to supporting emergency response in the eastern Mediterranean in line with the Barcelona Convention and its Prevention and Emergency Protocol.