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In Iraq, FSD locates and neutralises improvised mines in areas previously occupied and mined by the Islamic State. In addition, FSD reinforces the capacities of the national authorities.

A deminer from FSD marks the location of an improvised explosive device on a minefield. (Iraq, 2019)

This deminer marks the location of an improvised mine, which will then be neutralised and destroyed. (Iraq, 2021)



By the end of 2017, the war against the Islamic State was officially over; the jihadist group had been driven out of all the areas it had occupied since 2014. For the Iraqi population however, this did not imply an immediate return to a normal life.

Many villages are still littered with explosive devices laid by the jihadist group on roads, in fields, homes and schools. Inside buildings, these so-called improvised mines are sometimes hidden under furniture, in televisions or refrigerators, in doorways and windows.

In addition to these deadly devices, dangerous pieces of unexploded or abandoned explosive ordnance are scattered across former battlefields.

It is essential to clear contaminated villages and agricultural areas as soon as possible, and to train Iraqi national organisations in mine action. Only then can people safely to return to their homes, cultivate their lands and send their children to school.

Now the village is cleared and people are no longer afraid to come back and rebuild their homes.

Abd Al-Ghafoor Mohammed Attan

Muhktar (Mayor) of Karmardi village

Mayor - Irak

Mine clearance

In Iraq, FSD deminers focus their efforts on eliminating improvised mines. Such homemade explosive devices were manufactured by ISIS using everyday items or products and still litter the country in considerable quantities.

Each of these highly explosive devices is capable of creating a deadly explosion. To date, FSD has destroyed nearly 20 000 improvised mines, clearing an area equivalent to 3 000 football pitches.

Iraqi deminer trained to the use of a detector

Risk education

Mine clearance is a long and arduous task. In uncleared areas, the people have no choice but to live with the explosive devices. As such, FSD conducts risk education sessions for communities in areas that remain contaminated.

To date, 95 000 women, men and children have participated in education sessions organised by FSD teams. Additionally, FDS carries out a prevention campaign using social media via its local Facebook page.

Mine risk education-Delivery of EORE remotely via Loud Speaker

Capacity building

In 2020, FSD started a project to train Iraqi national staff and develop their capacities in mine action. FSD experts trained staff from Shareteah Humanitarian Organisation (SHO), a local non-governmental organisation. Today, the organisation is able to carry out demining operations independently and is accredited to do so.

Ultimately, the objective is for international actors to withdraw once national organisations have the capacity to carry out mine action activities in Iraq.


FSD in Iraq

FSD began working in Iraq in 2016, when ISIS forces still occupied part of the country. It deployed several demining teams, notably in the Gouvernorates of Kirkuk, Erbil and Nineveh, with support from the United States Department of State, the United Nations, the city of Geneva and other donors.

Demining operations in Iraq are delicate for deminers: explosive devices abound, and the fact that they are improvised makes it challenging to neutralise them. Each device encountered is likely to differ from others and requires special handling. For example, some may include hidden or multiple activation switches.

The environment represents an additional challenge for deminers as well as for FSD risk education experts and survey teams who work in the north of the country.

Temperatures of around 40°C for a good half of the year harden and dry the soil. This makes it difficult to carry out demining operations. Our teams often use mechanical means to excavate explosive devices.

Security also remains extremely fragile, and the level of destruction caused by combats means that little exists by way of infrastructure to host FSD teams close to minefields.


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Iraqi deminer trained to the use of a detector