ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Australia recently donated an additional USD 1.5 million to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in contributions to demining efforts in Iraqi areas that were liberated from the Islamic State.
Explosives the terrorist organization planted continue to be one of the greatest threats that impede the return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their homes.
The current proportion of displaced Iraqis is estimated to be around five percent of the total population. The numbers reached as high as 10 percent from 2014 through 2016 when the Islamic State took and maintained control over large swaths of territory in the country.
The Australian government’s contribution “will further support UNMAS explosive hazards management activities to create safe conditions for the sustainable return of displaced people,” a statement from UNMAS read.
Since Iraq announced the military defeat of the Islamic State in December 2017, UNMAS has cleared over 1,100 sites of explosive devices the extremist group left behind.
The extra donations “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 statement added.
“Although much progress has already been made, the huge scale of explosive hazards contamination in Iraq means there is still much to be done,” the statement quoted Australia’s Ambassador to Iraq, Joanne Loundes.
“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,” Loundes affirmed.
Earlier this month, UNMAS said Sweden had donated USD 8.3 million to the organization.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany