Sunday 16 June 2019
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reliefweb - 24 days ago

Iraq: UNMAS Iraq Programme Report 2018

Source: UN Mine Action Service Country: Iraq
BACKGROUND: UNMAS IN IRAQ The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Iraq leads the United Nations (UN) efforts in collaboration with the Government of Iraq to mitigate explosive threats and to support capacity enhancement of national and regional mine action authorities. Liberated, but not safe.
In Iraq today, an area the size of New York State liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) in December 2017 remains contaminated by explosive hazards, including landmines, explosive remnants of war (ERW) and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), from conflicts, both past and recent. Life at a standstill.
These hazards contaminate urban and rural environments, water treatment plants and village wells, factories and farmers’ fields, schools and hospitals, roads and bridges. Until cleared of the suspicion of hazards, the areas must be presumed ’unsafe’. Value statement.
Clearance can be measured as a socio-economic outcome: the 6,500 mostly women workers formerly employed by a textile factory in West Mosul remain without wages until the factory is first cleared, then rehabilitated. Lethal needles.
The most serious of threats and most time-consuming to remove are homemade, victim-operated, IEDs, lethal “needles” cleverly hidden by ISIL in demolished buildings like so many urban “haystacks” ready to inflict harm. Grisly truth.
IEDs triggered by infrared sensors have been found under garments hanging from pegs, in air conditioning units, refrigerators. They lie concealed in debris, often attached to the deceased, unwilling human shields used by ISIL in their retreat. Victims have been found by the thousands. Clearance first.
ISIL remains an active threat both to communities and to those doing de-mining work. Clearance delays work for ISIL as a way to provoke public dissatisfaction, erode public confidence “on the cheap”: remaining IEDs stall reconstruction of infrastructure and the restoration of public services. The importance of two.
In 2018, UNMAS clearance teams removed 18,050 threats from hospitals, schools, public service facilities, etc. across West Mosul, but thousands more remain. “The few” can count for more than “the many”. In Fallujah, a month after UNMAS divers safely removed and disposed of two submerged IEDs from the Iron Bridge: now open for public use, what had been a two-hour detour to reach the region’s only maternity hospital is, once again, a five-minute trip. The wait.
Meanwhile, at the end of 2018, 1.8 million internally displaced persons living in camps still wait for a safe, dignified return home to cities like West Mosul, reduced to rubble by the fighting. Risk education programs aim to protect residents and returnees alike, ensuring that everyone regardless of gender or age is aware of the “new type” of explosives relating to IEDs: in pots and pans, in grazing fields, and attached to toys. Safe home.
According to some estimates and based on work done to date, it may take a decade or more to clear West Mosul of explosive hazards and the rest of the liberated areas have yet to be surveyed and a time estimate established. In the meantime, clearance-and-rehabilitation work proceeds, building by building, street-by-street, field-by-field. The people of Iraq, like people everywhere, deserve a safe home.

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