More than a million Iraqis whose lives have been devastated by Daesh safely returned home in 2018, made possible in part thanks to a huge UK aid funded mine clearance mission.

The Department for International Development (DFID) has today (Saturday 5 January) announced further support to clear explosives from schools, hospitals and roads in Iraq, eradicating one of the lasting impacts of Daesh’s reign of terror across the country.

Thousands of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) continue to threaten the lives of Iraqi men, women and children trying to rebuild their lives after the conflict and the UK’s vital work will help even more people to return to normality without continued risk to their lives.

With the support of UK aid, approximately 16,500 explosives, 800 suicide belts and a staggering 2,000 deadly explosives traps were cleared in Iraq last year.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:

Daesh’s sickening use of explosive traps continue to threaten children in their schools, mothers in hospitals and thousands of innocent people trying to return to a normal life.

“Thanks to this UK aid funded work, people can return to work, children can go back to school and lives are slowly being rebuilt.

“The UK is a world leader in demining. I believe the UK public supports this work and can very clearly see its impact, in changing and saving lives.

This new funding will support projects across the country’s Sinjar Province, an area with a historically large population of Yezidis who have been displaced by Daesh in their thousands, and one of the areas worst impacted by Daesh occupation.

UK aid will support six explosive clearance teams who will be deployed across the region making schools, hospitals and critical infrastructure safe from suspected explosive.

There is more work to do with 1.8 million people still displaced, many living in camps across the country. For many of them deadly explosives, rigged, booby-trapped and hidden on an industrial scale mean that they are unable to return to their homes.

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has called the use of explosive traps a Daesh strategy to ‘win on the cheap’, continuing to devastate Iraq even as the Iraqi people try to rebuild.

UK aid funded explosive clearance teams have found:

  • A hospital used as Daesh’s HQ in Mosul where 3,500 explosive hazards, including hand grenades and missiles, had to be secured;
  • A school in Fallujah rigged with 13 IEDs, which could have seriously injured or killed the 450 children attending the school;
  • The British-built ‘New Bridge’ in Fallujah was rigged with 44 IEDs and 400 kilograms of explosives, blocking the only connection to Baghdad – preventing businesses from operating;
  • A school in West Mosul which was used as a bomb factory, where 1,500 explosives, including 15 suicide belts, were found and secured.

UK aid is funding education experts to teach children and adults on how to keep safe from undiscovered explosives and what to do if they see a suspected device. Last year, DFID’s support educated more than 400,000 people on the risks. This education may save their lives.

With hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq still in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, the UK has supported more than 400,000 people with food and provided life-saving healthcare services to over four million people since 2014.

(Source: UK Department for International Development – DFID)

Today Minister Falah Mustafa received a delegation from Department for International Development (DFID) to establish a mechanism for their support towards the Syrian refugees in Kurdistan Region.

DFID currently has working teams in Jordan, Lebanon and in London to provide humanitarian assistance. They also provided assistance to the Kurdish people in 1991 following the creation of the safe haven by the international community.

Their visit to the Region will involve meetings and discussions with key officials, UN and several of its agencies, as well as with local NGOs and partners.

Minister Falah Mustafa applauded the initiative and said that the move would encourage other British organisations to get engaged. He said, “We appreciate your visit to see the situation on the ground and to look at ways you can assist.”

“This is a welcoming step by the British government to help the refugees and we are ready to do what we can to contribute,” he added. Minister Mustafa emphasised that the aid the refugees in the Region have received compared to other countries is very limited.

He also said that the KRG has committed an additional $25 million to the large number of refugees – approaching 200,000 in the Region.

Speaking about the continued assistance the KRG is providing, Mr Tony Conley said that DFID will move quickly on the ground to deliver responses.

He said, “The organisations and teams that we have met have all been complementary about the positive KRG response to this crisis.” He added that his team is looking at measures to support local efforts and to support the KRG and is already funding a number of organisations in Kurdistan.

The delegation from DFID included Mr Richard Gerraro, Humanitarian Advisor and Mr Neil Elliot, Security Manager. The meeting was also attended by the British Consul General in Erbil, Mr Hugh Evans, and officials from the DFR.

(Source: KRG)