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)

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

A delegation from DFID was recently hosted by UNMAS in Mosul and had the opportunity to speak with Iraqi and international implementing partners and hear their stories about how and why they work to clear of explosive hazards. Ms. Stefanie Nijssen, Policy & Programme Manager for Demining and Arms Control, and Ms. Susan Erb, Humanitarian Advisor, together with Mr. Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Iraq Senior Programme Manager, saw firsthand that within a few days a water treatment plant can be made free from explosive hazards for engineers to commence rehabilitation work – but no matter how quickly this can be done, the emphasis is on making the site safe.

“Safety is the most important”, G4S Team Leader Faisal Abdul Rida Obaid Farham Al-Zaid explained to the visiting delegation. “We can fix a park or building after an explosion, but we cannot fix a lost limb or lost human soul”. DFID also met with a number of national and international mine action organizations, as well as local authorities.

UNMAS work in Iraq focuses on clearance of explosive hazards in areas previously under ISIL occupation, risk education with life-saving messages in advance of internally displaced persons (IDP) return and capacity enhancement of local and national authorities to manage, regulate and coordinate an effective response to new threats.

This is done in close coordination with agencies engaged in the rehabilitation of infrastructure and humanitarian programmes, which collectively define the way forward for development.

Deputy British Ambassador to Iraq, John Tucknott, said: “Until mines are cleared and areas made safe, normal life cannot return. Mine clearance is an essential step in regenerating war damaged areas. The UK is proud to be supporting UNMAS in delivering this essential work”.

“Explosive hazard management is the first step and of crucial importance to allow displaced people to safely return to their homes,” said Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Senior Programme Manager in Iraq. “The continued and generous support provided by the Government of the United Kingdom is crucial to create a safe environment for people to live in and to strengthen the capacity of the Government of Iraq in mitigating the threat posed by explosive hazards”.

The United Kingdom is one of the largest contributing member states to UNMAS in Iraq.

(Source: UN)

UNHCR supports 130,000 Iraqis taking the first steps on the road to recovery, thanks to funds from the UK Department for International Development

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, completes a year-long series of activities this month, supporting 130,000 vulnerable Iraqis as they take the first steps on the road to recovery, thanks to the generous donation of £9 million from the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

With these funds, UNHCR was able to reach approximately 90,000 people with cash assistance, and support 40,000 people to obtain the legal documents that are essential for them to access social welfare services provided by the Iraqi government.

The recent conflict cast a long shadow across Iraq. As the country begins to recover, the challenges faced by millions of people diversify. Although different to the situation endured during the years of extremist control and conflict, the current problems are no less acute for the people facing them.

By promoting self-sufficiency, reducing the burden of debt and encouraging reintegration into existing social mechanisms, programmes like cash assistance and access to legal documentation help to lay the groundwork for longer-term recovery.

“The UK continues to stand by vulnerable Iraqis affected by the devastating conflict with Da’esh,” said Mr. Jim Carpy, Head of DFID Iraq. “Through UNHCR’s programme, UK aid is providing families displaced by conflict with cash assistance, allowing them to buy food and other essential items, re-build their lives, and ultimately return home when it is safe to do so. Our support to displaced people – including many female-headed households – offers them dignity while empowering them to prioritise their own needs in a flexible and cost-effective way.”

“Cash assistance and access to new and replacement documents are crucial for Iraqis making the jump from crisis to recovery,” said Mr. Bruno Geddo, UNHCR’s Representative in Iraq. “The first step can be the hardest to take, and we must continue to stand by the people of Iraq as they start the long journey to peace and stability. UNHCR is grateful to DFID for its long standing support on cash assistance. At a time when global interest in Iraq is diminishing, I urge key donors to maintain the support they have so generously provided throughout this critical time. There is no quick fix for Iraq, and underfunding could severely impact many vulnerable people still unable to return home in a safe and sustainable way.”

(Source: UN)

The total number of individuals currently displaced in the Mosul emergency now tops 56,400 according to data released on Tuesday by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Since military operations to retake Mosul from ISIL began last month, IOM’s Iraq Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) Emergency Tracking shows population movement away from the combat zone has more than doubled in the past ten days, from 22,224 on 4 November to 56,412 last night.

Some 48,750 men, women and children have now been displaced from Mosul district alone. Another almost 5,000 have been displaced from Al-Hamdaniya district, with smaller numbers of people displaced from Telefar, Makhmour and Tilkhaif.

IOM Iraq’s DTM is used by the government and humanitarian agencies to guide the humanitarian response. Emergency Tracking for Mosul began identifying people displaced by military operations around Mosul on 17 October.

On 14 November, approximately 200 families from Markaz, a Mosul sub-district, arrived to Khazer M1 camp. Another approximately 150 families from Baashiqa sub-district moved to Zelikan camp after security screening in Nargazliyah.

“The numbers so far are not as large as expected,” IOM Director General William Lacy Swing said earlier this month. “We’d heard figures all the way up to 500,000 or 700,000. We are trying to prepare accordingly.”

The Displacement Tracking Matrix also indicates that close to 98 percent of all those leaving Mosul are displaced within Ninewa governorate in northern Iraq, where IOM continues to add capacity in shelter and other inputs in anticipation of growing numbers of displaced families.

East of Mosul, IOM is constructing an emergency site at Qayara Airstrip, which initially will comprise 5,000 plots. Some 68 percent of the work had been completed by yesterday (14/11) with 3,600 plots demarcated and 1,200 tents already erected. A total of 3,000 tents will be on site by the end of today (15/11), according to site managers.

Britain will provide an initial £3 million ($5.1 million) of emergency humanitarian assistance to help civilians fleeing the ISIS advance in Northern Iraq

International Development Secretary Justine Greening has activated the UK’s Rapid Response Facility (RRF), which provides emergency support via pre-approved organisations in the event of a humanitarian crisis overseas.

It follows an initial assessment of needs on the ground by DFID humanitarian experts who deployed to Iraq on Thursday.

This initial package of UK support comprises:

  • Clean water and sanitation, essential medicine, women-friendly hygiene kits and basic household items (provided from £2 million of RRF funding to NGOs in the region).
  • Protection for vulnerable girls and women through the deployment of dedicated UN safety and welfare teams in key internally displaced person/refugee camp sites and areas (secured through £1 million of funding to the UNHCR).

Justine Greening said:

“Iraq is facing serious humanitarian need and the UK contribution to the international relief response will include initial funding for clean water, medicine and sanitation, as well as support for the UNHCR to provide dedicated safety and welfare teams to protect vulnerable women.”

The UK will continue to monitor the situation closely and work with key partners including the Red Cross/Red Crescent and UN agencies.

(Source: UK FCO)

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)