The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) is continuing its life-saving work in Iraq. UNMAS is grateful for the support it received from three generous donors.

The Governments of Belgium (USD 1.6 million), Italy (USD 784,000) and the Slovak Republic (USD 18,750), donated more than USD 2.4 million to ensure that explosive hazard management, training and technical support and risk education activities will advance in 2020.

The presence of explosive hazards, including improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in areas retaken from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Da’esh, continues to endanger the lives of women, men, girls and boys and hinder the return of the 1.4 million people who are still unable to go home.

Belgium, Italy and Slovakia recognize that the work of UNMAS is necessary to achieve lasting stability in Iraq. As the United Nations launches the “decade of action” to realize the full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, the path-clearing work of deminers leads the way for all development in the country. Creating a safe environment enables people to return home, move freely and make productive use of their land.

Mr. Vanden Bulcke, Ambassador of Belgium to Iraq, said:

After Iraq declared victory against Da’esh in 2017, everyone discovered with dismay the exact level of contamination left by the terrorist group in the regions they occupied. The priority of clearing the contaminated rumbles, houses and infrastructures became of national interest for Iraq.

“By supporting the work of UNMAS in mine risk education, clearance and capacity building, Belgium wants to guarantee with its share safe grounds to start reconstructing the country and help the population come back to their houses and their land.

Mr. Michele Morana, Director of AICS Jordan and Iraq, stated:

“The appalling extent of mine-contamination in Iraq, is still producing dreadful consequences on the health and livelihood of the conflict affected communities. Therefore, Italy remains fully engaged in pursuing the objective of a mine free Iraq and in supporting UNMAS endeavour toward such goal”.

Mr. Lubomir Macko, Ambassador of the Slovak Republic in Beirut, added:

Watching the dramatic events unfolding in today’s Iraq we should not forget that many of its people still suffer from the consequences of the conflicts, the main phase of which is already over. Unexploded mines and explosive hazards continue to claim victims among civilians who want to return to their homes and rebuild their lives there.

“That is why UNMAS’s work in Iraq is extremely important and I am glad that the Slovak Republic could support it by a financial contribution. Iraq is one of the main recipients of Slovak humanitarian aid.”

Explosive hazards are found everywhere: in infrastructure, schools, hospitals, homes and under bridges. These deadly items not only hinder reconstruction and stabilization efforts, but also impede the return of displaced communities to some kind of normal life. That is why UNMAS work in Iraq remains critical and we are very grateful for the support received by Belgium, Italy and Slovakia.” said Mr. Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Senior Programme Manager in Iraq.

(Source: UN)

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Iraq welcomes an additional contribution of EUR 2 million (approximately USD 2.2 million) from the Federal Republic of Germany for the survey and clearance of explosive hazards in support of humanitarian and stabilization initiatives.

The conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq has resulted in complex and extensive explosive hazard contamination and displaced 5.8 million of people since 2014.

Explosive hazards present a significant risk for individuals returning to their communities, as well as those providing the initial response, especially in urban areas where explosive items are buried in rubble and debris from collapsed buildings.

The continued threat of destabilization is significantly heightened through the presence of explosive hazards, particularly in residential and rural communities. This ensures that a continued de facto battle continues, resulting in lives lost with no enemy in sight.

The legacy of ISIL will continue to live on as long as explosive hazards are scattered in houses, neighbourhoods and across communities, posing a threat to citizens set on rebuilding their lives post-ISIL occupation.

With contribution from the Federal Republic of Germany, UNMAS, through its national and international implementing partners, will continue to work to mitigate the threat posed by explosive hazards through explosive hazard management activities. This is not exclusive to clearance only; it also means that risk education is comprehensively integrated to maximize the impact on communities.

This contribution from the Germany will significantly further support UNMAS explosive hazard management activities in Iraq, enabling the safe, dignified, and voluntary return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) as well as a secure environment for returnees.

Commenting on the contribution, Mr. Heiko Maas, German Foreign minister, said:

“Without demining, life cannot return. UNMAS’ de-mining and training activities are a crucial contribution to efforts of the Iraqi government and the international community to enable IDPs to return to their homes. We are proud to support them. UNMAS creates corridors for peace. In order to keep these corridor open, Germany remains committed to the stabilization of areas liberated from Daesh.”

Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Iraq Senior Programme Manager, said:

“As our largest donor, the Government of Germany has been pivotal to enabling and supporting UNMAS explosive hazard management activities throughout Iraq. In Fallujah, Kirkuk, Mosul, Ramadi, and Sinjar, schools, hospitals, bridges, water treatment plants etc. have been cleared to enable rehabilitation works by the Government of Iraq and other humanitarian actors. In some villages, critical infrastructure has been cleared so that families can resume their livelihoods without fear of encountering explosive hazards.”

(Source: UN)

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has welcomed an additional contribution of EUR 600,000 (approximately USD 670,000) from the Government of France dedicated to explosive hazard management activities that aim at enabling returns in retaken areas of Iraq.

The presence of explosive hazards, including improvised explosive devices in areas retaken from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Daesh, will continue to impede security and stability efforts until they are cleared and rendered safe.

Explosive hazards are not only blocking reconstruction efforts in retaken areas but also deterring people from returning home, particularly in areas affected by intense or prolonged military action. More than 1.4 million civilians are still displaced in Iraq due to the recent conflict and unsafe conditions to allow their return.

The Government of Iraq maintains explosive hazard management capacities within a number of government entities and established mine action authorities, though the demand for assistance exceeds the resources available.

With this additional contribution from the Government of France, UNMAS will further develop a nationally-led response to the threat of explosive hazards, including the provision of explosive hazard management in areas prioritized for stabilization and humanitarian response, technical advice to national and regional authorities as well as risk education.

All projects implemented by UNMAS Iraq are gender mainstreamed and promote gender equality. Among other measures, the programme introduced in 2019 mixed search and clearance teams in Sinjar. This initiative is a step closer to empowering women in mine action and is facilitated by the government of France.

Commenting on the contribution, the French Ambassador to Iraq, Bruno Aubert (pictured), said:

“France considers the clearance of retaken areas as a priority to ensure that the right conditions are in place for displaced persons to return home. We want to renew our commitment to the Iraqi population regarding this essential matter and support the excellent work of UNMAS in Iraq.”

Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Senior Programme Manager, said:

“France is supporting explosive hazard management activities conducted by UNMAS Iraq for the second year. Clearance is still a critical step before any rehabilitation work can take place, and enables the safe, dignified and voluntary return of displaced communities. Such outcomes are only possible thanks to the generous contributions of donor countries and UNMAS Iraq is very grateful for the support provided by the Government of France.”

(Source: UN)

The Dutch Government Reiterates its Support to Explosive Hazard Management Activities in Iraq

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Iraq welcomes an additional contribution of EUR 3 million (approximately USD 3.5 million) from The Netherlands to mitigate the threat posed by explosive hazards and enable the return of displaced communities to their areas of origin.

This contribution will mainly focus on the Sinjar district where one of the major problems post-liberation remains the presence of explosive hazards. Faced with military operations to reclaim the Sinjar territory in 2014, members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) deliberately booby-trapped private residences, ensuring that improvised explosive devices (IEDs) continue to haunt the city long after they had left.

These dangerous items are everywhere. Their presence threatens lives and impedes the safe return of internally displaced persons (IDPs). As of 31 October 2019, approximately 25,400 IDPs from Sinjar district are still estimated to remain displaced, with about 11,400 households having returned (International Organization for Migration; Displacement Tracking Matrix).

These remnants of war are also a significant obstacle to all rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts. No humanitarian projects can begin if critical infrastructure such as hospitals, power plants, schools, bridges, and roads are littered with IEDs – often barely visible to the untrained eye.

In addition to explosive hazard management activities, risk education will be delivered to affected communities from the area where clearance operations are taking place, either on site or in the nearby IDP camps. The Netherlands will also support a nine-month risk education campaign that will be implemented throughout 2020 and will be measuring the long-term effect and behaviour change following the delivery of life-saving messages through different channels and targeting specific audiences.

Last week, representatives from the Dutch Embassy in Baghdad were able to see first-hand explosive hazard management and risk education activities conducted by UNMAS implementing partner in Ramadi, Al-Anbar Governorate. Commenting on the visit, Mr. Tsjeard Hoekstra, Chargé d’Affaires, underlined the essential importance of mitigating the risks posed by explosive hazards left behind by Da’esh during a dark period in the recent history of Iraq. “The work of UNMAS and its partners is crucial in the light of the safe return of those that have been displaced during the conflict, and enabling affected communities to rebuild their lives. The liberated areas, such as Anbar and Sinjar, need our continued support towards stabilization and recovery, and the Netherlands is proud to strengthen its partnership with UNMAS in this regard.”

“We eliminate the explosive threat along roads, under bridges, from power and water plants, from schools, from critical infrastructure, so that those displaced by conflict can return to their homes, begin again to work, to educate their children, to contribute to society, to live a normal life. This would not be possible without the support from our donors. We are utmost grateful for the adiitional contribution from the Dutch Government,” added Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Iraq Senior Programme Manager.

(Source: UN)

The Dutch Government Reiterates its Support to Explosive Hazard Management Activities in Iraq

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Iraq welcomes an additional contribution of EUR 3 million (approximately USD 3.5 million) from The Netherlands to mitigate the threat posed by explosive hazards and enable the return of displaced communities to their areas of origin.

This contribution will mainly focus on the Sinjar district where one of the major problems post-liberation remains the presence of explosive hazards. Faced with military operations to reclaim the Sinjar territory in 2014, members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) deliberately booby-trapped private residences, ensuring that improvised explosive devices (IEDs) continue to haunt the city long after they had left.

These dangerous items are everywhere. Their presence threatens lives and impedes the safe return of internally displaced persons (IDPs). As of 31 October 2019, approximately 25,400 IDPs from Sinjar district are still estimated to remain displaced, with about 11,400 households having returned (International Organization for Migration; Displacement Tracking Matrix).

These remnants of war are also a significant obstacle to all rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts. No humanitarian projects can begin if critical infrastructure such as hospitals, power plants, schools, bridges, and roads are littered with IEDs – often barely visible to the untrained eye.

In addition to explosive hazard management activities, risk education will be delivered to affected communities from the area where clearance operations are taking place, either on site or in the nearby IDP camps. The Netherlands will also support a nine-month risk education campaign that will be implemented throughout 2020 and will be measuring the long-term effect and behaviour change following the delivery of life-saving messages through different channels and targeting specific audiences.

Last week, representatives from the Dutch Embassy in Baghdad were able to see first-hand explosive hazard management and risk education activities conducted by UNMAS implementing partner in Ramadi, Al-Anbar Governorate. Commenting on the visit, Mr. Tsjeard Hoekstra, Chargé d’Affaires, underlined the essential importance of mitigating the risks posed by explosive hazards left behind by Da’esh during a dark period in the recent history of Iraq. “The work of UNMAS and its partners is crucial in the light of the safe return of those that have been displaced during the conflict, and enabling affected communities to rebuild their lives. The liberated areas, such as Anbar and Sinjar, need our continued support towards stabilization and recovery, and the Netherlands is proud to strengthen its partnership with UNMAS in this regard.”

“We eliminate the explosive threat along roads, under bridges, from power and water plants, from schools, from critical infrastructure, so that those displaced by conflict can return to their homes, begin again to work, to educate their children, to contribute to society, to live a normal life. This would not be possible without the support from our donors. We are utmost grateful for the adiitional contribution from the Dutch Government,” added Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Iraq Senior Programme Manager.

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

Swiss-based has won a contract with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) for the provision of “Explosive Hazard Clearance Teams (EHC Teams) and Risk Education (RE) in Iraq with International Technical Oversight Component: Sinjar & Tal Afar“.

The contract is worth $2,548,636.

(Source: UNGM)

By John Lee.

Swiss-based has won a contract with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) for the provision of “Explosive Hazard Clearance Teams (EHC Teams) and Risk Education (RE) in Iraq with International Technical Oversight Component: Sinjar & Tal Afar“.

The contract is worth $2,548,636.

(Source: UNGM)

Following the completion of a U.S.-funded, 18-month demining project, the Nineveh provincial government assumed control of the Mosul International Airport during a turnover ceremony on November 5.

Demining teams from Janus, TetraTech, and local Iraqi partner Al Fahad carried out the project from April 2018 to October this year. Together, the contractors cleared more than 170 explosive hazards, including unexploded ordnances, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and bomb-making materials.

The U.S. contractors also cleared significant amounts of rubble, enabling the provincial government to start rebuilding the airport.

The United States is the largest donor to conventional weapons destruction activities in Iraq, investing more than $498 million since 2003 toward the clearance of landmines, IEDs, and other explosive remnants of war as well as for risk education.

U.S.-funded demining teams have cleared over 108,500 explosive hazards since 2016, including more than 17,000 ISIS IEDs.

This support plays an integral role in enabling the restoration of critical infrastructure, the delivery of basic services, the return of displaced communities, and the resumption of local economies safe from buried ISIS explosives and the threats they pose.

(Source: U.S. Embassy in Baghdad)

MAG teams up with Facebook to reduce casualties from ISIS mines in Iraq

The Mines Advisory Group (MAG) has launched an innovative project with Facebook and the US government to help people in northern Iraq learn how to stay safe from the landmines and unexploded bombs left behind after years of war.

The initiative uses Facebook’s advertising tools to deliver simple graphics to at-risk groups describing how to recognise dangers, how to stay safe if an explosive device is discovered, and how to alert the authorities to the problem.

The pilot project, which will run until November 2019, will target users living in Ninewa, a governorate in northern Iraq that is home to 2.5 million people.

Ninewa, and Mosul, its capital city, were heavily affected by the conflict between the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) and Iraqi government forces. More than three years of conflict had a devastating impact on the area: more than 125,000 square kilometres of the governorate are now believed to be contaminated with improvised landmines and other explosive devices. Many landmines manufactured by ISIS are sensitive enough to be triggered by a child but powerful enough to disable a tank.

The initiative aims to reach at least 85 per cent of Facebook users in Ninewa—an estimated 1.4 million people—and will be supported by MAG teams working on the ground. A dedicated website (www.staysafefrommines.com) also contains essential information on how to stay safe from mines in three languages. The messages have already reached over 800,000 people in the region since the initiative launched in September.

Since 2016, MAG has removed more than 17,000 explosive items from Ninewa—many found in and around homes, schools, and health facilities. MAG teams have given risk education sessions to more than 175,000 people, teaching them how to recognise, avoid, and report explosives. These sessions are typically delivered in person by MAG staff. However, with tens of thousands of families continuing to return home after the fall of ISIS, there has been a need to develop a way to provide life-saving education to larger audiences, more quickly.

This need was the foundation of the collaboration between MAG, the US government and Facebook.

Portia Stratton, Country Director for MAG in Iraq, said:

Almost half of landmine victims are children, so it’s important as many people as possible learn how to keep their families safe until we can clear the danger.

“Our staff usually give lessons in-person, but that means the reach is limited and more costly. Using Facebook to get to hundreds of thousands of at-risk people via their phones could have a real impact in helping reduce the casualties from these devastating devices.

A spokesperson for Facebook said:

 “Facebook is honoured to play a part in helping reduce landmine casualties in Iraq. With so many now using Facebook around the world, ads are another way to share urgent information with communities who might be at risk. We hope that these messages in Iraq could one day save a life.”

Sol Black, Program Manager for Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen Emergency Response at the US State Department said:

As part of our constant search for new and innovative ways to keep people safe from explosive hazards left by ISIS in Iraq, the United States Department of State is proud to partner with MAG and Facebook to deliver targeted risk education to Iraqis living in areas most heavily impacted by improvised explosive devices, landmines, and other explosive hazards left by ISIS.

“By leveraging an existing communications platform already used by the majority of Iraqis, this Department of State-facilitated initiative uses an innovative approach to deliver life-saving information to those Iraqis most likely to encounter dangerous explosive hazards.

MAG is a global landmine clearance charity that’s helped over 18 million people in 68 countries rebuild their lives and livelihoods after war.

We have worked in Iraq since 1992 to make land safe for populations affected by decades of conflict.

(Source: MAG)

By John Lee.

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Iraq would like to highlight the role of the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) as a key facilitator of stabilization and humanitarian efforts through the support of explosive hazard management and risk education activities in the retaken areas of Iraq.

More than two years after the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) retook areas previously under Da’esh control, the presence of explosive hazards continues to act as one of the primary inhibitors for the safe, dignified, and voluntary return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) back to their homes. The scale, density, and complexity of explosive hazards is unprecedented, making Iraq one of the most contaminated countries in the world.

Support from the United Kingdom through DFID has a significant impact on clearance efforts in the country, allowing for the continuation and expansion of UNMAS activities in the retaken areas of Iraq. In collaboration with its implementing partners and the Government of Iraq, UNMAS has coordinated a humanitarian response framework that tackles explosive hazard contamination through three different strategies: direct explosive hazard management through clearance measures, enhancement of government capacity through advanced trainings, and provision of risk education to vulnerable and displaced communities.

Risk education is a key activity supported by the United Kingdom since inception. Life-saving messages are delivered to affected communities via sessions mostly organized in IDP camps, schools and community centers. To extend the reach of risk education messages, creative tools such as the screening of TV clips, the printing of life-saving messages on taxis, date packages, water bottles and gloves as well as the use of virtual reality goggles have also recently been developed and used. These initiatives are essential to avoid accidents caused by explosive hazards.

British Chargé d’Affaires in Baghdad John Tucknott said:

The UK is the largest contributor to the Voluntary Trust Fund for Mine Action in Iraq. UK aid supports UNMAS in clearing explosive hazards, educating vulnerable communities on how to stay safe and helping to train Iraq’s National Demining Authority.

“It also supports search and clearance teams clearing important infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and roads, enabling Iraqis to safely return to their homes. We are particularly pleased that in Sinjar these teams are gender-balanced and include members belonging to different religions and ethnicities.

Pehr Lodhammar, Senior Programme Manager of UNMAS in Iraq:

Explosive hazards continue to have an adverse effect on afflicted communities in Iraq. Our primary mandate is to facilitate the safe and voluntary return of IDPs to their homes. We cannot do that when an estimated 70 per cent of explosive hazards still lie underneath the rubble.

“Risk education and the clearance of explosive hazards always come together. To avoid accidents, it is crucial to teach affected communities which behaviours to adopt when encountering explosive hazards.

(Source: United Nations)