Erbil: Six mine casualties registered in 2016

The Kurdistan Region has prepared an annual plan to remove landmines in the Region.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – The Kurdistan Region has prepared an annual plan to remove landmines in the Region, especially areas that are populated, said a KRG official on Tuesday.

Jamal Jalal Hussein, Director General of the Erbil Mine Action Center (EMAC) with the Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA) and the director of the Fria Society of Mine Action Professionals in Erbil, told Kurdistan24 that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is continuously working on clearing landmines in the Region.

“We have an annual program to free Kurdistan of landmines, especially the areas that are close to where people live,” Hussein said.

There are an estimated 314 million square meters (121 square miles) of contaminated land across the Kurdistan Region. Most of these landmines belong to the Iran-Iraq war, which took place 1980-1988.

Hussein stated that the KRG has a team in the Kurdistan Region that engages with people and raises awareness in communities that are close to the landmines.

Moreover, Environmental Activist Rafiq Karam Sturni told Kurdistan24 that mines are one of the most challenging issues, not only in the Region but all around the world.

“The landmines in the Kurdistan Region were planted decades ago. They are outdated and may detonate at any time,” Sturni continued. “Landmines in the Region don’t need someone to engage them before they explode; they might explode randomly and unexpectedly due to the increasing heat in Kurdistan.”

According to the Erbil Mine Affair Office, six casualties have been registered since the beginning of 2016 where two people died, and the rest were critically injured.

Two months ago, the KRG General Agency for Mine Affairs released its annual report revealing that 17,803,463 square meters of contaminated land have been cleared, with 16,024 landmines and unexploded ordnances (UXO) deactivated in 2015.


Reporting by Mewan Dolamari
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany and Ava Homa