Twenty years ago, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, commonly known as the “Ottawa Treaty” opened for signature. The Republic of Iraq acceded to the Ottawa Treaty on 15 August 2007, becoming a State Party on 1 February 2008.
The Government of Iraq and the mine action community have been working towards Iraq’s compliance with its international obligations under the Ottawa Treaty, including the clearance of contaminated land. Contamination left from past conflicts is currently exacerbated by new explosive contamination that is a result of the current conflict in Iraq.
Since October 2016, there have been more than 2,400 explosive hazard incidents recorded in Mosul. This new explosive contamination has a devastating humanitarian impact.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, who was recently in Iraq, noted in his message to commemorate the fourth of April, “Improvised explosive devices are killing and injuring thousands of civilians annually. These pernicious devices are hidden in homes and schools, terrorizing local populations.”
To date, more than 20 mine action partners are responding to mitigate a threat of explosive hazards nationwide to protect civilians from danger such as Improvise Explosive Devices (IED), Unexploded Ordinances (UXO) and landmines.
To mark International Mine Action Day in Iraq, on 4 April in Baghdad, representatives of the Government of Iraq, the United Nations, the donor community, and mine action organizations gathered to commemorate the day with speeches and a photo exhibition at the Royal Tulip Al Rasheed Hotel, Baghdad.
At the event, Iraq’s explosive hazard situation, achievements and activities, and remaining challenges were discussed. Dr. Jasem Hamadi, Deputy Minister of Health and Environment, emphasized that the Mine Action strategy 2017-2022 has been drafted and it would be a roadmap for a completion of disposal of mines and Explosive Remnant of War (ERW) in Iraq.
Ms. Lise Grande, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Iraq, highlighted the support of the Government of Iraq in facilitating the work carried out by humanitarian mine action communities which contributes to saving lives, protecting civilians, and facilitating long-term recovery and development in Iraq.
The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), in close cooperation with Iraqi authorities, leads a coordinated civilian emergency response to address explosive hazards with mine action authorities, local security sector services, NGOs, and commercial partners to deliver mine action programming in the areas impacted by the recent conflict.
UNMAS would like to thank the donor community for their recent support to UNMAS’ activities, specifically Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, the European Union, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, and the United Kingdom.