EU pledges additional $8 million for explosives clearance in Iraq

Photo: Archive
Photo: Archive

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The European Union’s ambassador to Iraq on Friday said the bloc would allocate an additional $8 million (€6.7 million) for the detection and destruction of explosives left by ISIS.

Martin Huth said in a tweet that the money would be allocated to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) for mine removal.

UNMAS welcomed the funding, saying it would “support the Government of Iraq in protecting vulnerable civilians from the threat posed by explosive ordnance left behind” by ISIS.

The clearance project has already begun and is scheduled to last until mid-2022, it said.

“The project will pave the way for much-needed development through increased agricultural activities and housing development,” UNMAS added.

The additional funding will support explosives clearance and additional community education in risky areas, “enabling the safe return of internally displaced persons as well as reconstruction efforts,” it said.

Huth said the contribution showcased the EU’s “continued commitment to address the problem of explosive ordnance in Iraq and to thereby enable economic development,” but that demining efforts “must ultimately be led by the Government of Iraq.”

Iraq declared victory of ISIS in late 2017 but is still clearing areas seized by the group of explosives, which has prevented displaced people from returning home, especially in the provinces of Nineveh and Kirkuk.

In addition to the explosives planted by ISIS, landmines dating back to the 1980s remain along the Iran-Iraq border, placed by both the Iraqi regime and Iranian forces during the eight-year war.

There are an estimated 314 million square meters of affected land across the Kurdistan Region, according to the head of the Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA).