The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) welcomes the contribution of SEK 75 million (approximately USD 8.3 million) from the Government of Sweden on mitigating the threat from explosive hazards in support of enhanced provision, facilitation and enablement of humanitarian and stabilization support.

Approximately 1.8 million people are estimated to be internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq, equating to 18 percent of the Iraqis who live in conflict-affected areas, and more than 5 percent of the overall population. According to an assessment carried out in 2018, on average and across affected areas, 22% of IDPs in camps cite explosive hazards as a main reason for not intending to return to their areas of origin, rising up to 52% in some governorates.

In addition, 12% of out-of-camp IDPs cite the same. As for those who do choose to return, do so in potentially unsafe environments contaminated by explosive hazards (Multi-Cluster Needs Assessment VI led by the Assessment Working Group and facilitated by REACH, September 2018).

UNMAS Iraq, working in tandem with its implementing partners, continues to maintain a weighted presence in Iraq, especially in the areas liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Through strategic partnerships and engagement of both internal and external stakeholders, and in support of the Government of Iraq and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNMAS has so far cleared over 1,100 sites of critical infrastructure. These include bridges, water plants, power plants, hospitals, schools, etc. that were once the strongholds of ISIL and which were littered with explosive hazards after their defeat.

With this contribution from Sweden, UNMAS will be able to better support communities with explosive hazard management, risk education, and capacity enhancement initiatives in support of the Iraqi government.

The contribution comes in concert with a recent field visit organized for representatives of the Government of Sweden, including the Swedish Ambassador to Iraq Mr. Pontus Melander, to Sinjar and Kocho in the Sinjar District of the Ninewa governorate. During the visit, the delegation gained a first-hand insight on UNMAS planned clearance activities inside the district’s most damaged area, with its scale of destruction and contamination continuing to be prime inhibitors for the safe, dignified and voluntary return of IDPs to their homes.

His Excellency Mr. Pontus Melander said:

“As we have seen firsthand, it is painfully clear how explosive hazards prevent humanitarian assistance, reconstruction and the safe return of internally displaced persons. Sweden proudly supports UNMAS’ critical work, as well as the efforts of the Government of Iraq, with explosive hazards management and demining. These efforts are crucial for both the delivery of humanitarian assistance and protection of civilians, as well as being a precondition for safe reconstruction and returns.”

Pehr Lodhammar, Senior Programme Manager of UNMAS in Iraq, added:

The severity of explosive hazard contamination in ISIL-affected areas in Iraq cannot be understated. The methods and explosive devices used by ISIL are unlike any we have seen previously. They planted, sometimes very complex improvised explosive devices, across all areas previously under their control. These devices are constituting a threat to returning populations and humanitarian actors, still, and long after ISIL were defeated.

“This new funding from Sweden will go a long way in ensuring that UNMAS can provide the support needed to ensure the safe return of IDPs to their communities.

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

Two companies have won tenders to supply “Hook & Line equipment and Metal Detectors” to the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Iraq.

The contract with South Africa-based LVP Technology is valued at $608,292, while the contract with Monaco-based MKG sarl is valued at $144,845.

(Source: UNGM)

Over seven million square meters in areas liberated from ISIS cleared of explosives

The Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA) has cleared 7,414,199 square meters in areas liberated from ISIS of explosive devices and difused 43,057 IEDs and UXO pieces, said Siraj Barzani, Head of IKMAA, in an interview with the Kurdistan Regional Government website.

From the 2014 ISIS onslaught until October 2017, three IKMAA units in Duhok, Erbil, and Germiyan, in cooperation with Peshmerga forces, started their plan to clear contaminated areas and raise public awareness of explosive devices.

Mr. Barzani said that poisonous chlorine gas bottles stockpiled by ISIS were also deactivated by an IKMMA team with the assistance and supervision of a special chemical weapons team from the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs and Ministry of Interior.

According to Mr. Barzani:

“IKMMA teams in liberated areas faced a variety of impediments, including fragile security, logistical issues, unsatisfactory information about areas and risks, pressure to hastily clear contaminated areas.”

With financial assistance from foreign governments, international NGOs – MAG, FSD, Handicap International, NPA, DDG, Sterling – participated in these clearing operations.

According to IKMMA, in 1991, 776 square kilometers of the Kurdistan Region were contaminated with landmines and unexploded ordnance, UXO, laid by former Iraqi regime forces, which has since decreased to 270 square kilometers, a reduction of 65 percent.

According to Mr. Barzani:

“From 1991 until October 2018, there have been 13,233 victims of landmines and other explosive devices. Today, there are fewer victims due to clearance operations and increased public awareness.’’

(Source: KRG)

By John Lee.

Two companies have won tenders to supply Safety and Security Demining Equipment and Binoculars to the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Iraq.

The contract with US-based Sarkar Tactical Ltd is valued at $21,260, while the contract withUS-based OKI General Trading is valued at $2,725.

(Source: UNGM)

The Federal Republic of Germany supports joint Ministry of Interior and UNMAS training to respond to explosive hazards

This week marked the beginning of a 75-day training course in Anbar jointly organized by the Ministry of Interior and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS).

This course will be the first of its kind, with Iraqi Police instructors and UNMAS instructors working closely side-by-side to train local police in explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and improvised explosive devices disposal (IEDD).

Explosive hazards continue to pose a significant risk for people returning to their homes, as well as for the security services providing the initial response to the explosive threat. Displaced people who are returning to former battle areas are likely to encounter explosive hazards.

One of the options available to them is to contact local police who, in turn, will be the first responders. The presence of trained local police contributes to a safer environment and mitigates the risks of casualties amongst returnees.

“Explosive hazard clearance remains of the utmost importance in order to allow displaced people to return to their homes. Such clearances are a vital part of our stabilisation efforts” said Dr Cyrill Jean Nunn, Ambassador of Germany to Iraq. “Therefore Germany remains committed to supporting UNMAS in this important task.”

“Capacity enhancement support to enable local police response to explosive hazards is critical for the re-establishment of rule of law in liberated areas” said. Mr. Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Senior Programme Manager. “Germany is a crucial partner for supporting explosive hazard management training and providing advice to the Government of Iraq.”

The generous contribution of EUR 4.5 million from the Federal Republic of Germany allows UNMAS to provide training and advice to National Mine Action Authorities and the Ministry of Interior to mitigate the threat from explosive hazards. This also includes a dedicated Gender Advisor who is working with relevant stakeholders (implementing partners and authorities) to mainstream gender into Mine Action processes.

UNMAS continues to train local police to provide life-saving first response in affected communities. Since January 2018, more than 370 police officers have been trained as first responders and 30 police officers are now able to train other police officers in Anbar and Kirkuk Governorates.

The Federal Republic of Germany remains the largest contributor to UNMAS in Iraq, providing a total of EUR 44.2 million since 2016.

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

Two UK-based companies have won tenders to provide Explosive Hazard Management (EHM) and Risk Education (RE) to the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Iraq.

The contract with G4S Risk Management Limited is valued at $8,420,831 while the contract with The HALO Trust is valued at $3,996,181.

(Source: UNGM)

The Government of France supports Explosive Hazards Management to enable Humanitarian and Stabilization Efforts in Liberated Areas

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has welcomed a first contribution of EUR 500,000 (USD 590,000) from the Government of France dedicated to explosive hazard management in support of humanitarian and stabilization efforts.

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

Approximately 1.9 million civilians are still displaced in Iraq due to the recent conflict and unsafe conditions to allow their return. It is estimated that 21% of internally displaced persons (IDPs) are not planning to return to their area of origin because of the presence of explosive hazards and IEDs (REACH/CCCM Cluster ‘Intentions Survey’, January 2018).

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 far exceeds the resources available.

With this first contribution from France, UNMAS will increase capacity to conduct survey and clearance of liberated areas suspected to be affected by explosive hazards in Anbar, Ninewa, Kirkuk, Salah al-Din, and Diyala Governorates.

UNMAS Iraq will more specifically coordinate the deployment of appropriate clearance capacity in priority locations depending on assessments in direct support of the Government of Iraq, UN plans and humanitarian assistance efforts as well as in coordination with relevant UN agencies.

In collaboration with the Directorate of Mine Action (DMA), risk education will be also provided to those living in and returning to liberated areas known to be contaminated by explosive hazards. Finally, this donation will help UNMAS to further enhance Governmental authorities’ ability to better manage, regulate and coordinate response to the current contamination through training and advisory support.

The French Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Bruno Aubert (pictured) said:

“This contribution testifies not only to the concrete commitment of France alongside Iraqis but also to a desire for effective collaboration with all our partners to develop concrete projects for the reconstruction of Iraq”.

Mr. Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Senior Programme Manager, stated:

“This first contribution from the Government of France will make a significant difference. It will not only support UNMAS efforts to address the threat posed by explosive hazards, but also contribute to the safe and dignified return of displaced communities.”

(Source: UN)