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 a national NGO.
By the end of 2017, the war against the Islamic State group was officially over; the jihadist group had been largely 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 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 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
FSD in Iraq
FSD began working in Iraq in 2016 when the Islamic State group still occupied part of the country. It deployed several demining teams, notably in the Governorates of Kirkuk, Erbil and Nineveh.
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 up to 50°C for a good half of the year harden and dry the soil. Consequently, our teams often use mechanical means to excavate explosive devices.
Modified construction machines support the manual work of deminers. A small remote-controlled vehicle makes it possible to inspect the interiors of potentially hazardous buildings. Finally, our survey teams started using a small remote-controlled drone to help determine the presence or absence of explosive ordnance contamination in a given area.
FSD’s programme in Iraq is supported by the U.S. Department of State, the United Nations, the Canton of Geneva, GGL Austria and other institutions and private foundations.
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