MAG in Iraq









At a time when they are most vulnerable, MAG provides people with the opportunity to live free from fear and gives them hope for a better future.

Children play near ruined houses in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Children play near ruined houses in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Photo: Sean Sutton/MAG


The problems

Why MAG is in Iraq

Following decades of conflict, Iraq is heavily contaminated with landmines and other unexploded ordnance (UXO). The ongoing regional crisis has added to the scale of this problem.

The huge numbers of people who have fled fighting are at significant risk. Since 2014, an estimated 3.4 million people have been displaced. Almost a third of these have sought refuge in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I), which has suffered from numerous conflicts previously and as a result is highly affected by mines and UXO. 

New, temporary residents of KR-I may not be at all familiar with the area and have no idea about places that are contaminated by UXO and mines.

Their return home, as more areas are liberated, is also fraught with danger, as the widespread destruction of infrastructure during the ongoing conflict has left the deadly legacy of UXO hidden amongst the rubble. 


How MAG is helping in Iraq

Throughout the current humanitarian crisis, MAG has been clearing landmines and UXO from hazardous land for the safe expansion or establishment of camps for displaced people and Syrian refugees in northern Iraq, as well as delivering life-saving risk education for those fleeing the violence.

With people wanting to return home to newly liberated areas, our teams are working through the rubble of damaged or destroyed houses, removing UXO and making it safe for the process of rebuilding to begin.

This is in addition to our ongoing efforts to free the people of the KR-I from the fear of explosive mines and UXO. By clearing mined areas, MAG enables communities to use their farming land in safety, giving them greater food security and an escape from poverty.

Land cleared by MAG in Iraq over the past two decades has been used to:
• build new roads, schools, hospitals and entire villages
• pave the way for thousands of farmers to work in safety
• open up vital trade routes.

How MAG works in Iraq

Working in coordination with the Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency, MAG deploys manual and mechanical clearance teams to remove and destroy landmines and other items of UXO from priority areas.

In newly liberated areas, we're using specialist excavation, demolition and rubble removal machines to enable people to return to their homes. 

Our Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams respond immediately to reports of UXO found on land by local communities. In addition, we use Mine Detection Dog teams in low and medium threat minefields to speed up the clearance process.

As part of this clearance process, our Community Liaison teams work directly with conflict-affected communities to gather information about dangerous areas. They also conduct risk education activities, giving tailored safety messages to help minimise the risk for people until our teams can remove the threat permanently.

Our commitment to helping those most in need

MAG began operating in Iraq in 1992 – an emergency response to deal with the huge levels of contamination in the region from the Iran/Iraq war and the first Gulf War – and is the longest serving mine action operator in the northern region.  

MAG’s experience enables the delivery of diverse and scalable programmes, ensuring we reach those people who are most in need.

By removing and destroying dangerous items and conducting risk education, MAG is reducing the threat of death and injury. At a time when they are most vulnerable, MAG provides people with the opportunity to live free from fear and gives them hope for a better future.

Boy with a MAG risk education leaflet

Ten-year-old Emir attended a MAG risk education session in northern Iraq. A few days earlier, he had been playing with deadly explosive items. "I will never touch UXO again and if I see any I will tell my father to call MAG," he said.

Photo: Sean Sutton/MAG