Support Removal of Iraq Landmines

A great human disaster may hit Mandali unless they are given funds to clear more than one million mines in the region, claim local officials.

Mandali's council has estimated that more than $2 billion is needed to clear land mines and other dangerous explosive material from the region's border with Iran.According to figures on the Mandali border which is predominantly inhabited by Kurds along with Arabs and Turkmen, more than one million mines left over from the Iranian-Iraqi war are threatening the lives of locals.

They may also be vulnerable to exploitation by armed groups or for commercial purposes.Unemployment and the deterioration of the economic situation in Mandali has prompted many of the population to risk their lives and enter the hazardous areas to collect minerals and plastics, once used in munitions and mines manufacturing, and then sell them in local markets.

Azad Hamid Shafi, the head of the local council, told AKnews on Thursday that local authorities and international organizations were ready and willing to remove the hazards and recalled mine clearing campaigns adopted in the Dhi Qar province.He described the hazard as the greatest danger to residents and a possible human disaster.

Millions of mines were planted along the border during the 1980 - 1988 war. Due to its close proximity, Mandali witnessed the heaviest fighting and was subjected to daily shelling.Around 25 million mines remain across Iraq with 10 million of them in Kurdistan alone. There are also three million unexploded bombs in various areas of Iraq.

The United Nations believes that the actual number of mines in Iraq could be a staggering 60 times higher.As a condition of joining the 2007 Ottawa Treaty Iraq must clear from its territory mines, explosives and other remnants of war by 2018.The UN estimates that around 10 years and 19, 000 bomb removers are needed to achieve this.

By Mahmoud al-Jabbouri
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