IRAQ: THE NEW LANDMINE EMERGENCY
All photos: MAG/Sean Sutton
Since the start of the military offensive on Mosul on October 17th, around 70,000 people have fled the areas in and around Iraq’s second city, with UN data and surveys indicating that almost half of these are children.
Speaking about terrible experiences, people have told MAG they are relieved to have escaped, but at the same time are afraid for their futures – and even more so for friends and relatives still stuck in the midst of battle and brutality.
At the camps set up by MAG’s humanitarian partners – often on land that has been made safe from improvised landmines and unexploded ordnance by our teams – people who've been displaced by the violence are provided with tented shelter and basic supplies.
With temperatures due to drop – winters are cold and wet in northern Iraq – what they want most is to get home as soon as possible, once the violence has ceased.
But people are losing lives, limbs and livelihoods as they return to extensive contamination from landmines and booby traps in their homes, villages and fields. We are in a race against time to get to these brutal, indiscriminate killers.
In just three weeks in just one village east of Mosul, MAG cleared 250 improvised landmines. This could be 250 lives saved. Most of the improvised mines MAG has found are powerful enough to rip apart a car, but sensitive enough to be triggered by a child’s footstep.
We have been working in Iraq for a number of years, but are needed now more than ever. If we can’t respond quickly, people will die.
And MAG’s community liaison teams have given mine risk education to hundreds of people around Mosul, helping them to stay safe until the improvised mines and booby traps are removed.
Twenty years on from the historic Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty, the world is facing a new landmine emergency. The regional conflict in Iraq and Syria has resulted in a scale of contamination not seen for decades.
- Unpacking the term 'IED' - why detail matters
- Principled Humanitarian Mine Action
- Implications for Humanitarian Mine Action policy and practice
Page updated: 15 January 2017