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Enabling a safe return: mine and ordnance clearance in Iraq

Signs signaling mines placed as part of an effort to locate and remove mines planted by ISIS in Iraq's Kirkuk province

Signs signaling mines placed as part of an effort to locate and remove mines planted by ISIS in Iraq's Kirkuk province, © Sputnik

12.02.2021 - Article

In many parts of Iraq, mines, explosive ordnance and IEDs are still preventing a return to normal life. Germany supports the United Nations Mine Action Service and other organisations in their work to eliminate the threat posed by explosive remnants of war.

Many parts of Iraq are minefields, in the truest sense of the word: during its retreat from areas it formerly controlled, the Da’esh terrorist organisation left behind IEDs, concealed explosive devices, and improvised mines. Added to this are threats posed by explosive remnants of former conflicts and wars, in the form of unexploded ordnance, residual ammunition and minefields, for example in areas bordering Iran and Saudi Arabia. These hazardous explosive remnants are still making it difficult for displaced Iraqis to go back to their homes, and they are preventing a return to normal life for many who have returned or who never left.

Mine clearance and education

As part of its support for the stabilisation of Iraq, the Federal Foreign Office is therefore in 2021 maintaining its financial support for the United Nations Mine Action Service, by providing approximately 3.7 million euro. Thanks to Germany’s assistance, mined areas are cleared and Iraqi mine action teams are trained. Special emphasis is placed on areas that have been liberated from Da’esh, so as to enable displaced Iraqis to safely return to their homes in the not too distant future. Since 2014, Germany has made available 33 million euro to UNMAS to help stabilise these liberated areas.

Humanitarian mine clearance in affected areas remains a main priority. That is why, in 2020, the Federal Foreign Office provided some 8.5 million euro to the mine clearance programmes of Handicap International, Norwegian People’s Aid, Mines Advisory Group and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Explosive ordnance risk education and long‑term assistance

Because of the high level of contamination with explosive remnants, these cannot all be removed or detonated in a controlled way by external teams. The German Government’s assistance therefore seeks to provide long‑term help by building up local expertise and providing risk assessment and long‑term assistance in areas that are particularly affected. This includes Federal Foreign Office support for the work of Handicap International, an organisation that conducts campaigns to educate the population in contaminated areas about explosive ordnance risks and how to safely live in mined areas and takes care of those who have been injured.

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