Supporting Syrian refugees in northern Iraq

MAG cleared 156,720 square metres of land removing and destroying 1,150 hazardous items, such as shells and mortars – in northern Iraq, to enable a reception camp for Syrian refugees to be built.

Bajid Kandala - before and after

Before and after: MAG made land safe so that regional authorities and UNHCR could install this reception camp for Syrian refugees coming into northern Iraq at the Peshkhabour border crossing.

Photo: MAG Iraq

More than 210,000 Syrians are registered as refugees in Iraq, with 2,500 crossing the border at Peshkhabour on Sunday (5 January) afternoon alone.

New arrivals are housed at the Bajid Kandal centre in Dohuk Governorate until places can be found for them in permanent refugee camps. While there, they receive 'risk education' from MAG's Community Liaison teams to help keep themselves safe from landmines and other explosive weapons [see images below].


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MAG cleared 15 hectares in Bajid Kandal, at the request of the Kurdistan Regional Government and the UN Refugee Agency...

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1,150 hazardous items were removed and destroyed...

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A new reception camp for Syrian refugees was immediately installed...

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More than 2,500 Syrians crossed into northern Iraq on 5 January alone.

The Kurdistan region of Iraq is littered with mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) – remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime and the coalition forces’ bombardment of military bases in 2003.

Many of those making the journey from Syria have no idea about these deadly threats in the area.

The UXO threat

“The area designated for the reception camp had been used as a scrapyard attached to a former Iraqi military base," explains Ziad Obaid, MAG Iraq’s Community Liaison Coordinator.

“After the 2003 war, local traders continued to use the area as a scrapyard, but the metal objects they brought there included unexploded ordnance."

Eighteen accidents involving UXO had been reported at the scrapyard over the past few years.

“Villagers from Bajid Kandal were hired by the local traders to work as labourers in the scrapyard,” said local resident Tayar Hassan.

“Many people were injured in accidents involving these dangerous weapons. But poor people needed to work to feed their families, and they took the risks.”

Please help MAG to remove and destroy landmines and unexploded ordnance by making a donation now: donate online.

Risk education at Bajid Kandala

MRE by MAG at Bajid Kandala

Risk Education by MAG at Bajid Kandala

Mine Risk Education by MAG at Bajid Kandala

MAG Iraq's Community Liaison staff give 'risk education' to newly arrived Syrian refugees.

Photos: MAG Iraq

Risk education video

Produced by MAG in conjunction with UNICEF, the UN Mine Action Service and other Mine Action implementing agencies, this film is being played in refugee camps in Iraq.

"UXO" is short for "unexploded ordnance" – explosive weapons such as bombs, rockets, missiles, mortars and grenades that did not explode when they were used, and that still pose a risk of detonation.


See also: Keeping fleeing Syrians safe from mines and UXO

Find out more: MAG in Iraq

Please donate: £15 could help us deliver lifesaving 'risk education' to a conflict-affected community


• MAG Iraq's Conventional Weapons Destruction teams carried out clearance at Bajid Kandal thanks to funding from the US State Department's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.

Thanks to all the public, institutional and government donors to MAG's operations in Iraq, including: Australian Aid; Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands; NVESD HD R & D Program; Sida (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency); Stichting Vluchteling; US Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement. Without this support, MAG's lifesaving work in the country could not be carried out.

8 January 2013