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)

By John Lee.

Two companies have won contracts with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) for the “Supply and Delivery of ICT Equipment for UNMAS Iraq“.

  • Lot 1 – Laptop Computers and Peripherals: Contract value of $32,320, awarded to Zero One Co. Ltd. 
  • Lot 2 – Apple Branded Tablets: Contract value of $10,130, awarded to Canon for General Trading Ltd Co.
  • Lot 3 – Tablets and Mobile Phones: Contract value of $4,920, awarded to Canon for General Trading Ltd Co. 

(Source: UNGM)

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)

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has welcomed an additional contribution of USD 1,625,000 from the Government of Japan to further mitigate the threat posed by explosive hazards in support of the provision, facilitation and enablement of humanitarian and stabilization support.

Japan has recently decided a new assistance package for Iraq amounting to USD 63 million, which includes this project as a contribution to explosive hazard management,” said His Excellency Mr. Naofumi Hashimoto (pictured), Ambassador of Japan to the Federal Republic of Iraq.

He reiterated Japan’s continued support for Iraq’s reconstruction efforts, notably through humanitarian and stabilization assistance to help displaced people return to their communities.

UNMAS, 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).

This contribution from the Government of Japan will support UNMAS explosive hazard management activities in Iraq. UNMAS implements a strategic, comprehensive response to mitigate the risks posed by explosive hazards through three primary areas: explosive hazard management, capacity enhancement, and risk education.

This range of activities allows for a dynamic and adaptable approach covering clearance, enhancement of existing government resources, and engagement with communities to ensure a unified response to explosive hazards.

This contribution is complemented with a risk education event for internally displaced people (IDPs) sponsored by Japan, entitled “Safe Run”. Through interactive activities and a two-kilometre run for children of families residing in the camp, the event highlighted correct behaviors to adopt when encountering explosive hazards.

Mr. Katsumi Moriyasu, Consul of Japan in Erbil, talked to children in his speech at the event:

“It is my sincere hope that you keep yourselves fully cautious and protect yourselves, based upon the lessons you have learned today. You are assured that your parents, authorities, UNMAS, local and international communities continue to work closely toward a world without mines so that you, your sisters and brothers can attend school and play at outside fields, being free from getting victimized.”

Mr. Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Senior Programme Manager in Iraq, said:

“Significant explosive contamination remains uncleared throughout the liberated areas and pose a significant threat to all members of the affected communities, with children being especially vulnerable. Whether through direct explosive hazard management, or risk education initiatives such as this ‘Safe Run’, Japan’s generous contribution will go a long way in supporting humanitarian and stabilization efforts in the country.”

The Government of Japan is an essential contributor to UNMAS explosive hazards management activities in Iraq and has donated over USD 14.4 million since 2016.

(Source: UN)

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Iraq welcomes an additional contribution of DKK 73 million (over USD 11 million) from the Government of Denmark to mitigate the threat posed by explosive hazards and enable stabilization efforts in liberated areas of Iraq.

The scale, scope, and complexity of explosive hazard contamination in liberated areas is substantial, and far exceeds the existing national resources to clear them.

This multi-year contribution (2019 to 2021) from the Government of Denmark is critical to the continuation of operations and brings the total Danish support for UNMAS work in Iraq to DKK 165,500,000 (approximately USD 26 million).

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 1,400 critical infrastructure sites. These include bridges, water treatment and power plants, hospitals and schools. All littered with explosive hazards following the defeat of ISIL.

With this contribution from Denmark, UNMAS will be able to better support the safe, orderly, voluntary and dignified return of displaced communities through explosive hazard management, risk education, and capacity enhancement initiatives in support of the Iraqi government.

Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Anders Samuelsen (pictured) underlined the importance of explosive threat mitigation for the return of IDPs:

“We are painfully aware that the return of internally displaced persons to some kind of normal life is not possible as long as explosive hazards threaten their life and safety. That is why UNMAS’ work remains so critical.”

Mr. Pehr Lodhammar, Senior Programme Manager of UNMAS in Iraq, said:

Explosive hazards are found everywhere: in infrastructure, schools, hospitals, homes and under bridges. They are mixed with the rubble, and are found in rural and urban areas, sometimes visible, but often hidden, waiting for potential victims. They must all be cleared before communities are safe.

“UNMAS has been in Iraq for just over three years, and we still have a long way to go. We are very grateful for this generous contribution from Denmark that will allow us to continue our work in explosive hazard management and simultaneously save lives in the process.

(Source: UN)

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Iraq has welcomed an additional contribution of AUD 2 million (approximately USD 1.5 million) from the Government of Australia to further enable stabilization and humanitarian efforts through explosive hazards management in liberated areas of Iraq.

This brings the current three-year contribution from Australia to a total of AUD 13 million (approximately USD 9 million).

The survey and clearance of explosive hazards are a crucial precursor to the commencement of humanitarian and stabilization initiatives, and the demand for assistance still exceeds the resources available. UNMAS in Iraq is working closely with the United Nations system and the Government of Iraq to enable humanitarian and stabilization efforts.

This contribution from the Government of Australia will further support UNMAS explosive hazards management activities to create safe conditions for the sustainable return of displaced people. It will also improve coordination, engagement and capacity enhancement of relevant government authorities, threat impact assessments as well as clearance and risk education initiatives. This will reduce the risk of explosive hazards in direct support of humanitarian and stabilization planning and delivery, while at the same time increase national capacities to manage the overall threat of newly identified explosive hazards in these areas.

The contribution comes in concert with a recent field visit organized for representatives of the Government of Australia to Fallujah in Anbar Governorate. During the visit, the delegation received a comprehensive briefing on UNMAS clearance activities inside the city’s most damaged areas, with its scale of destruction and contamination continuing to be prime inhibitors for the safe, dignified and voluntary return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their homes.

Australia’s Ambassador to Iraq, Dr Joanne Loundes (pictured), said:

“Although much progress has already been made, the huge scale of explosive hazards contamination in Iraq means there is still much to be done. We are increasing Australia’s contribution to UNMAS because we are committed to helping Iraq address these challenges and helping displaced families return to their homes.”

Mr. Pehr Lodhammar, Senior Programme Manager for UNMAS in Iraq, said:

“Through its continuous support and close collaboration with UNMAS, the Government of Australia is helping to reduce the threat posed by explosive hazards, including improvised explosive devices, thereby enhancing community safety and facilitating the return of displaced people to their homes.”

The Government of Australia is an essential contributor to UNMAS explosive hazards management activities in Iraq. This latest contribution brings to AUD 18 million (approximately USD 13 million) the total amount of funds donated since 2016.

(Source: UN)

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)

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)