Italy donates 585,000 euros to explosive hazard clearance in Iraq

Italy has committed a further 585,000 euros to UNMAS, the UN’s mine clearing agency, to support efforts to clear Iraq of landmines and unexploded remnants of war, allowing displaced families to return.

Years of war with ISIS have left the ground and buildings of Iraq saturated with explosive hazards. Until this complex work is complete, reconstruction and resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) cannot press ahead.

“Among the activities testifying the commitment of the Government of Italy to stabilization, explosive hazard management and demining are deemed crucial for both the delivery of humanitarian assistance and the protection of civilians, as a precondition for a safe reconstruction,” said Bruno Pasquino, Ambassador of Italy to Iraq, in a statement.

“Italy is supporting these activities in a wide range of countries, for sheer decontamination and for capacity enhancement. In Iraq, our qualified support on demining will also be devoted to the protection of cultural heritage – a trademark of our development cooperation policy.”

Mosul was liberated from ISIS control in summer 2017 following a ferocious land and air campaign, which left much of the city and its infrastructure in ruins. ISIS militants left whole neighborhoods rigged with explosives, making it impossible for families to return to their homes.

More than a year since liberation, mine clearance operations are still ongoing.

“The presence of explosive hazards significantly impedes the safe, sustainable, voluntary, and dignified return of internally displaced persons to their areas of origin in Iraq,” said Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Iraq Senior Programme Manager.

“Italy is a critical cooperative partner for UNMAS humanitarian and stabilization efforts to ensure the return of livelihoods and a sense of normalcy to affected communities.”

Rome has an historical responsibility to assist Iraq with mine clearance. A huge number of the anti-personnel mines scattered along the Iran-Iraq border by Saddam Hussein’s forces between 1980 and 1988 are Italian made. Source