Iraq is one of the countries most severely affected by landmines, cluster munitions remnants and other explosive remnants of war.
According to the Mine Action Review’s publications “Clearing the Mines 2018” and “Clearing the Cluster Munition Remnants 2018”, Iraq is among the four most contaminated countries in the world. The war between Iraq and Iran during the 1980’s, the Gulf War in 1991, the 2003 invasion of Iraq and internal conflict have littered Iraq with millions of Explosive Remnants of War (ERW), including cluster munition remnants (CMR), landmines. The majority of the CMR contamination is in southern region of Iraq.
The already serious contamination has been made significantly worse by the recent fighting in Iraq and enormous quantities of improvised mines and explosive devices in areas liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levan (ISIL). This contamination is in the areas where ISIL has been operating in northern and central Iraq.
Iraq currently faces several critical conflict-related challenges, with devastating humanitarian consequences, threatening to further destabilize the country. Three years of continuous conflict and economic stagnation have impacted nearly every aspect of Iraqi society. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Humanitarian Needs Overview for Iraq 2018, “6.7 million Iraqis are in need of humanitarian aid”.
NPA in Iraq
Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) Humanitarian Disarmament has been present in Iraq since 1995 and currently has three operational clearance projects: in Southern Iraq, based out in Basra (operations in Basra, Missan and Muthanna governorates); in Northern Iraq, based out in Mosul (operations in Ninewa governorate); in Central Iraq, based out in Ramadi (operations in Anbar). The Programme is managed from its Humanitarian Disarmament country office located in Baghdad.
Due to its extensive CMR contamination, NPA supports Iraq to meet its article 4 obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) by conducting survey and clearance of CMR and providing advisory support in southern Iraq since 2010.
In January 2017 NPA commenced clearance of areas contaminated with improvised landmines and other explosive devices left behind by and in previously ISIL controlled areas in Northern Iraq. NPA's Project in Northern Iraq comprises of survey, clearance, and risk education activities with special competence in working in areas contaminated by improvised landmines and other explosive devices.
During 2018 NPA expanded its operations into Central Iraq, in order to fill the void of humanitarian assistance being delivered. Its role remains the same as in Northern Iraq, to clear improvised landmines and other explosive devices left behind by ISIL.
NPA Iraq has 15 Non-technical survey (NTS) teams, 1 Cluster Munition Remnants Survey Team, 18 manual clearance teams, 4 mechanical teams and an IED response team, responding to the CMR, improvised landmines/IEDs and other ERW contamination throughout the country.
Since 2010 NPA has provided Advisory and Support to the Regional Mine Action Centre South (RMACS) to increase their capacity on Operational and Quality Management. In June 2018 NPA commenced a project to provide the Directorate for Mine Action (DMA) with a full-time technical advisor. The advisor provides advice on operational management, support to national standard revision and development, and coordination with implementing partners.