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Building corridors for peace Iraq

An UNMAS team in Iraq prepares for a demining mission.

An UNMAS team in Iraq prepares for a demining mission., © UNMAS

30.01.2020 - Article

In areas in Iraq that have been liberated from ISIS, mines and booby-traps are still one of the main obstacles to the return of refugees. The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), which is co-funded by Germany, plays a key role in stabilising the country.

An invisible threat

When the ISIS terrorist regime was forced to flee, it left behind objects buried in the ground and under the rubble – mines, booby-traps and other explosive items, such as unexploded ordnance and suicide vests, are scattered throughout areas that have been liberated by the Global Coalition against Daesh. These objects are complicating recovery and reconstruction efforts and are significantly impeding the return of internally displaced persons. In many municipalities, these remnants have a long-term destabilising effect, because they remain an invisible threat and serve as a reminder of the ISIS terrorist organisation. The society is deeply traumatised and cannot make a fresh start if hidden booby-traps can bring death or injury at any moment.

Helping people help themselves

Iraq is a main focus of the work of UNMAS, the United Nations Mine Action Service. UNMAS personnel clear liberated areas of mines and booby-traps that were left behind by the terrorist organisation. UNMAS also helps the Iraqi Government build state structures in the sphere of mine clearance. Moreover, long-term stabilisation requires closely working with returnees. This is why UNMAS educates the civilian population in affected areas about the dangers of hidden explosives.

Long-term stabilisation

The German Government believes that UNMAS mine clearance and training programmes are significantly contributing to the long-term stabilisation efforts of the Iraqi Government and the international community and are helping to enable the return of those who were driven from their homes. Since 2016, the Federal Foreign Office has provided a total of 43.2 million euros in funding to UNMAS, as part of Germany’s stabilisation assistance. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas described it this way:

Without mine clearance, people cannot return. UNMAS builds corridors for peace. To keep these open, Germany will continue to support stabilisation efforts in the areas that have been liberated from ISIS.

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