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)

EU Signs Contracts of 57.5 Million Euros with UN to Support Mosul Recovery, Promises Additional 20 Million Euros Next Month

A delegation from the United Nations in Iraq and the European Union Mission to Iraq yesterday toured a number of EU-funded and UN implemented projects in Mosul, seeing first-hand the clearance, stabilization, rehabilitation and development work undertaken in the northern Iraqi city more than a year after its liberation from Da’esh.

Illustrating the joint efforts in post-Da’esh Iraq, the EU signed a contract with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) worth 47.5 million euros, another with UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) totaling 10 million euros, and announced 20 million euros in additional support for UNESCO as well as a further 15 million support for FAO, to be signed in January 2019.

The conflict with Da’esh has destroyed many areas of Mosul and Ninewa Governorate, and displaced a large number of the population. Since the military defeat of Da’esh a year ago, many people have returned, encouraged by the efforts to ensure a secure and safe environment. Some areas still lack basic services, and the UN, in support of the Iraqi authorities, are working to ensure a decent living for the people to facilitate the dignified return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

The delegation called on the Governor of Ninewa, Nawfal Al-Agoub, after which a signing ceremony was held.

EU Director for Development Cooperation for Asia, Central Asia, Middle East/Gulf and the Pacific Region, Pierre Amilhat, said:

“The Iraqi people have suffered enough, and the country is on the cusp of entering into a renewed phase of state-building. Today exemplifies the strong commitment the EU along with its UN partners have in shouldering Iraq in this critical phase. With the territorial defeat of Da’esh, all of us together have a window of opportunity to build an inclusive and accountable country and restore the trust between the people and their Government. This multi-pronged initiative will join the dots between the various reconstruction components, and significantly contribute to the betterment of the Iraqi people”.

UNDP Resident Representative a.i. for Iraq, Gerardo Noto, said:

“We are grateful to EU for our excellent partnership. We jointly help people of Iraq so that no one is left behind as all UN Members Countries committed in the Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is yet another practical example of support to the authorities and citizens of Iraq in regaining the trust of the local communities and rebuilding the state institutions towards a new social contract to sustaining peace and sustainable development”.

Earlier, the EU-UN delegation visited the Old City, site of some of the worst fighting – and destruction. They inspected the reconstruction work at the Al-Nuri Mosque, a symbol of Mosul’s history and culture that Da’esh deliberately destroyed its landmark leaning minaret before their retreat from the city. The work is part of ongoing projects to repair heritage sites by UNESCO throughout Mosul Old City’s funded by the EU.

UNESCO has launched “Revive the Spirit of Mosul”, an initiative that has the support of the Government of Iraq and in line with the Initial Planning Framework for Reconstruction of Mosul, which was jointly developed by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and UNESCO in collaboration with the Governorate of Ninewa, to rehabilitate Mosul’s rich and diverse cultural heritage. Restoring the identities within the communities of Mosul and other liberated areas of Iraq contributes to reconciliation and promotes more just, peaceful and inclusive societies.

“UNESCO is very grateful to the EU for its contribution to the reconstruction and restoration of the Old City of Mosul, in the context of the UNESCO ‘Revive the Spirit of Mosul Initiative’. This support contributes to the physical reconstruction of one of Iraq’s most emblematic historical cities, which has been severely damaged and destroyed. It also benefits directly the local community – by providing skills and jobs to thousands of young people” stated Louise Haxthausen, Head of UNESCO in Iraq. “We are particularly pleased that part of this contribution is dedicated to the urban rehabilitation of the old city of Basra, another highly significant historical city of Iraq,” added Louise Haxthausen.

UN-Habitat and UNDP are also working together in Mosul to rehabilitate damaged houses, repair secondary infrastructure, retrofit public facilities such as schools to promote the environmental responsiveness of buildings, and involve youth in redesign of public open spaces. Yuko Otsuki, Head of UN-Habitat in Iraq, expressed gratitude for the EU support “to continue improving the living conditions of Iraqi population through urban recovery investments and job and income generating opportunities in conflict-affected areas.”

The delegation toured Mosul University, once a major centre of learning in Iraq that Da’esh turned into a command post and weapons cache. Mosul University, Iraq’s second largest university, has suffered major damage, and it is estimated that rehabilitation work would require 350-500 million dollars. The university was cleared of explosive hazards, included Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

The work of UNMAS lies at the core of the stabilization and rehabilitation work. Mindful that no stabilization work and return of IDPs can be sustainable without ensuring a safe environment, the EU signed a contract granting UNMAS 10 million euros to continue the clearance of contaminated hospitals, schools, roads, bridges, religious sites and neighborhoods.

“We are very grateful for the support provided by the international community and more specifically by the EU. With this contribution, UNMAS Iraq will be expanding the clearance capacity in Mosul and also deploy capacity in Sinjar,” said Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Iraq Senior Programme Manager.

The group also visited the Ninewa Directorate of Agriculture where they were briefed about a project supported by the EU and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to support recovery of agricultural livelihoods by revitalizing of food production, value chains and income generation in Ninewa.

“I am so pleased to see the EU has agreed to help us rehabilitate key facilities and equipment of the Directorate as well as rebuilding livelihoods for so many smallholder farmers. Creating jobs in this heart land of agriculture is really key to community stabilization,” said Dr Fadel El-Zubi, FAO Country Representative in Iraq.

The EU has contributed a total of 184.4 million euros since 2016 to support stabilization and humanitarian efforts undertaken by the UN in support of the Government of Iraq.

(Source: UN)

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)

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) welcomes a contribution of NZD 250,000 (USD 160,000) from the Government of New Zealand and is grateful for the deployment of an in-kind Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Threat Mitigation Advisor to support explosive hazard management activities in Iraq.

Extensive conflict in Iraq involving the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Iraqi Security Forces, Kurdish Forces (Peshmerga) and other armed actors has resulted in the displacement of more than 5.8 million people between 2014 and 2017, amongst which 1.9 million are still displaced today and a significant increase in contamination from explosive remnants of war and IEDs in areas liberated from ISIL occupation.

The scale and complexity of the explosive hazard problem is substantial, unprecedented and exceeds existing and available response capacities. In Iraq, UNMAS is leading and coordinating a blended response to assist stabilization and humanitarian efforts supporting the return of displaced people to areas previously under ISIL occupation.

Given this challenging environment, the role of the IED Threat Mitigation Advisor is crucial to support UNMAS activities in Iraq and mitigate the threat posed by explosive hazards. By analyzing information and technical data relating to the IED threat within the region, continually assessing the operational situation in Iraq for areas of improvement in efficiency, effectiveness and safety and conducting IED awareness briefings, the Advisor plays a key role in prioritizing, coordinating and implementing explosive hazard management projects. The financial contribution will also address gaps identified to support the work of the IED Threat Mitigation Advisor.

The Ambassador of New Zealand to Iraq, Mr. Bradley Sawden, participated in a field visit to Mosul last week. This was an opportunity to introduce the IED Threat Mitigation Advisor and to better understand his role and responsibilities in support of explosive hazard management with UNMAS in Iraq.

The Ambassador visited a few sites in West Mosul including Danedan 2 Water Treatment Plant, Al Shuhudaa Park and Al Maedan district, where clearance operations are ongoing or have just been completed. An extensive briefing about the task and the outcome of the clearance was delivered in each location.

(Source: UN)

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)

The Iraq Governance and Security and Justice Programmes are key in delivering the UK’s mission to support the Iraqi Government and people as they build a stable, prosperous and democratic nation.

Working with the Government of Iraq, the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and the UNDP, CSSF funding has helped to rebuild essential infrastructure in areas liberated from Daesh, and cleared it of explosive hazards, enabling over 3.6m people to return home and access basic services, including healthcare, education, water and electricity.

CSSF support to the UNDP-led Funding Facility for Stabilisation, a multi-donor pooled fund, has helped deliver over 1,500 stabilisation projects restoring services and essential infrastructure in liberated areas. UNDP has staff deployed across Iraq, including embedded stabilisation advisors in 10 municipalities to support project planning.

The programme has provided cash for work for both men and women, and stimulated local business through reconstruction contracts. Over 15,000 residents earned a wage whilst restoring their homes and city.

Inclusion is critical to the stabilisation effort—and women have been recruited as engineers, social workers and in local councils. In total over 2,000 jobs and more than 1,000 small business grants have been created for women, and over 1,000 vulnerable women and female headed households have benefitted from cash for work programmes.

As well as the ‘pooled’ Funding Facility for Stabilisation projects, CSSF funding has specifically paid for the rehabilitation of a water plant serving over 300,000 people in Mosul and repaired over 2,000 homes in the city.

In Mosul the UNMAS demining programme has facilitated the removal of more than 585,000 explosive hazards, helping to enable the return of nearly 1 million people. Clearance locations include Al Khansa Hospital in Mosul and four schools in Al Qayarra, helping 1,286 children return to school.

To download the full report from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, please click here.

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)

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has welcomed a contribution of AUD 11 million (USD 8.6 million) from the Government of Australia dedicated to explosive hazard management in support of humanitarian and stabilization efforts.

Approximately 2.1 million civilians are still displaced due to the recent conflict and unsafe conditions to allow their return. A nation-wide intentions survey was carried out by REACH in partnership with the Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster in internally displaced person (IDP) camps between 12 December 2017 and 14 January 2018 highlighted that 52% of people interviewed were not planning to return home.

Of the 52% that will not return, 21% stated this was due to the possible presence of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and unexploded ordnance. In effect, 1 in 10 IDPs in the camps surveyed who are not leaving the camp are not returning home because of the fear of explosive hazard contamination in or nearby their homes.

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 the three-year contribution from Australia, UNMAS will conduct survey and clearance of liberated areas suspected to be affected by explosive hazards. This is in direct support of the Government priorities as outlined in the Directorate for Mine Action (DMA) “National Strategic and Executive Plan for Mine Action for 2017-2021” which highlights DMA’s aim to be able to survey, mark and render safe 50% of known explosive hazard contamination by 2021.

Simultaneously, in collaboration with DMA, risk education will be provided to those living in and returning to liberated areas, directly mitigating the threat posed by explosive hazards and IEDs. The efforts will specifically target affected communities known or suspected to have an explosive hazard or IED threat.

The Australian Ambassador to Iraq, Dr. Joanne Loundes (pictured) said:

“Australia is proud to partner with UNMAS and provide AUD11 million over three years towards critical demining activities in Iraq. Even though Iraqi territory has been liberated from ISIL, explosives remain hidden in homes, schools, hospitals and roads in former ISIL controlled areas. Unless these areas are cleared, people cannot return home, stabilisation and reconstruction efforts will stall and the human toll from this devastating conflict will continue.”

Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Senior Programme Manager, added:

“Through this generous contribution, the Government of Australia will further enable UNMAS to respond to explosive hazards through survey and clearance and in turn enable safe and dignified returns.”

(Source: UN)

Japan’s USD 4.5 million contribution for emergency response extends support for explosive hazard clearance in Iraq

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) welcomes the contribution of USD 4.5 million from the Government of Japan to support the UNMAS Iraq emergency response related to on-going humanitarian and stabilization efforts in liberated areas contaminated with explosive hazards.

Close to 2.3 million people are still displaced. Schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, electrical power stations and water treatment plants are still contaminated by explosive hazards in liberated areas.

With support from the Government of Japan, UNMAS Iraq is able to further expand explosive hazard clearance operations to remove threats from liberated areas assisting stabilization efforts and humanitarian activities supporting the safe, dignified and voluntary return of displaced people in Iraq.

Removing explosive hazards is the first step to commence rehabilitation and reconstruction activities with the Government of Iraq and UN partners, bringing the people of Iraq back to normal life and restoring economy.

Mr. Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Senior Programme Manager expressed:

“UNMAS Iraq appreciates the Government of Japan’s continuous support to the programme since 2016 reaffirming their financial commitment to explosive hazard mitigation operations.” He added that “Japan’s continuous support sustains our vital operations and allows us to expand explosive hazard activities in Iraq.”

Mr. Fumio Iwai, Ambassador of Japan to Iraq said:

“It is the fourth year in a row since Japan started the assistance for vulnerable Iraqi and Syrian people affected by ISIL through its Supplementary Budget. This assistance shows Japan’s strong and faithful commitment to addressing the basic needs in the camps and the areas of return in Iraq”.

He added:

“The assistance to UNMAS comes as part of the new package of humanitarian and stabilization efforts to Iraq amounting to approximately USD 100 million. Japan is determined to serve displaced and returning people, refugees and host communities in Iraq, while supporting Iraq’s efforts for its development”.

In 2019, Japan and Iraq will celebrate 80 years of diplomatic relations and friendship.

Japan’s total contributions to UNMAS Iraq for the past three years now total USD 12.8 million. Since the inception of the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action (UNVTF) in 1994, Japan has contributed more than USD 190.5 million to support mine action efforts worldwide.

(Source: UNAMI)

UNMAS Iraq ‘Clearance Mission’ Seen as ‘Tipping Point’ Between Past Conflict and a Normal Future

Lives and livelihoods in Iraq’s liberated areas are being restored at long last.

In Fallujah, as many as 1,800 vehicles and 100 pedestrians per hour can cross the re-opened ‘new bridge’ linking Baghdad with Al-Anbar Province. The fibre optic cable connecting more than 3,000 customers with Baghdad has been restored. The Jadidah fuel station, which had been closed for three years, now pumps an average of more than 31,000 litres for 300 vehicles per day.

In Mosul, the Al Qaysoor Water Treatment Plant has resumed providing clean and safe water to more than 300,000 customers across 34 service areas. The High Court can access deeds to validate land claims of residents returning to Ninewa Province. Valuable medical equipment, removed for safekeeping, awaits rehabilitation of a hospital in Mosul.

None of this progress would have been possible without infrastructure first being cleared of the explosive threats posed by debris of past conflicts and devices left by retreating ISIL forces, thus allowing the Government of Iraq, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the International Community to carry out the necessary rehabilitation work.

“We had almost lost all hope,” said Mr. Ali, manager of the Jadidah fuel station, speaking for its 20 employees. “We expected that the station would be blown up,” and it might well have been. United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS)-directed teams safely removed 34 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) weighing a total of 435 kg from the station premises. “You (UNMAS) gave us our jobs back,” he said.

“We eliminate threats 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,” said Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Senior Programme Manager, prior to the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq.

Lodhammar says conference outcomes will help UNMAS to set priorities working in collaboration with the Government and other agencies supporting Iraq’s reconstruction. All infrastructure is important, but the sequencing of clearance missions itself is complex and the UNMAS top priority, Lodhammar says. “What comes first on our list in turn affects all other rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts ‘downstream’,” he says. “So, we always begin with a joint-assessment to establish our priorities.”

He cites the current UNMAS work to clear Fallujah’s power grid serving two areas outside of the city. As of December 2017, UNMAS-directed teams had searched nearly 34 km² along power lines and cleared 580 explosive devices. When the UNMAS work finishes, repair crews can begin restoring power to as many as 60,000 people and seven schools.

UNMAS-directed partners working at the community level, village level, even the ‘well level’ make a difference on a daily basis, Lodhammar says.

In Al Bokald, villagers spoke of the ground as their enemy. “We could not walk for fear that something would explode in our faces,” said one. Today, with explosive devices cleared, 20 families again have access to a well and water for their own needs and to grow their crops.

The story confirms for Lodhammar the need, primacy and urgency of the clearance mission as shared by all agencies engaged in Iraq’s reconstruction. “We have to do our job, safely, quickly and well so others can do theirs.”

In 2018, the mine action sector requires 216 million USD to respond to the rehabilitation efforts of retaken areas and critical needs in access to basic and municipal services, education and health of returning civilians. In the Reconstruction and Development Framework (RDF) presented at the Kuwait Conference, the Government of Iraq will prioritize the clearance of explosive hazards to enable the reconstruction of Iraq and support of accountable governance, reconciliation and peace building, social and human development and economic development.

(Source: UNAMI)