Belgium contributes $802,000 for demining efforts in Iraq

Belgium has thus far contributed a total of $6 million to mine clearing efforts in Iraq.
The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) is actively involved in demining efforts in Iraq. (Photo: UNMAS)
The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) is actively involved in demining efforts in Iraq. (Photo: UNMAS)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Iraq on Monday welcomed a renewed contribution of $802,000 by the Belgian government for demining.

“Activities will include delivering sustainable and efficient explosive hazard management, support, as well as providing technical and advisory support for the national mine action authorities,” UNMAS said in a press release.

“This is the fifth consecutive annual contribution from Belgium with a total amount of EUR 6,250,000 million (approximately USD 6,000,000).”

Mines, including improvised explosive devices (IEDs), in the areas liberated from ISIS continue to pose a threat to civilians.

As of July 2023, there are approximately 2,942 square kilometers of recorded contaminated areas across Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region.

Read More: Kurdistan Region records over 30 causalities to mines last year 

Furthermore, numerous unexploded mines remain in the borders of the Kurdistan Region, a legacy from past conflicts, including the eight-year Iraq-Iran War.

Since 2014, millions of Iraqis have been displaced and nearly 1.1 million of them remain in Iraq, the vast majority of them hosted in the Kurdistan Region.

“I think if you look at Kurdistan, that is hosting now more than 1 million IDPs (internally displaced persons) from other parts of Iraq and about 250,000 refugees from neighboring countries,” PM Masrour Barzani said during the MEPS Forum earlier this month, “that speaks volumes about where Kurdistan stands on the rights of different communities in Kurdistan.” 

With landmines populating 650 million square meters of land, Iraq has the most landmines of any country in the world, according to the Landmine Monitor. Of the 650 million square meters, nearly half (314 million) are in the Kurdistan Region.