Establishing 'national standards' for demining

KRG landmine affairs agency inks agreement with Baghdad

ERBIL – In a significant move towards addressing the persistent issue of landmines and unexploded ordinances in Iraq, a delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s Mine Action Agency has signed a memorandum of understanding in Baghdad.

The memorandum aims to foster mutual cooperation on demining efforts despite assertions from Erbil that Baghdad has not provided adequate support thus far.

Ali Miran, the General Director of Technical Affairs at the Mine Action Agency, who visited Baghdad on Wednesday, emphasized the importance of the memorandum, stating that its objective is “to establish national standards for mine affairs between the two entities and to further internationalize the mine issues [facing Iraq].”

Under the agreement, both the Kurdistan Region and Iraq will collaborate on the handling and clearance of mines and unexploded ordinances.

Miran highlighted the necessity of such cooperation, particularly given the significant challenges posed by landmines in the region. He also voiced concerns over the lack of support from the Iraq Landmine Agency and the Iraqi Government towards the Kurdistan Mine Action Agency and its operations. He noted that any progress achieved within the Kurdistan Region thus far has been a result of the agency’s own efforts.

Iraq is the world’s most contaminated country in terms of mined areas, with over 34,000 casualties reported by 2019, according to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor.

Statistics from the Kurdistan Mine Action Agency indicate that approximately 776 square kilometers of land in the Kurdistan Region remains contaminated with mines. Since the commencement of demining operations in 1992, about 60% of this area has been cleared, reducing the contaminated area to 258 square kilometers.

However, the risks associated with landmines are unevenly distributed across the region, with close to 60% of mines concentrated within Sulaymaniyah province, as well as areas such as Penjwen, Soran, Choman, Halabja, and Garmiyan, highlighting the vast scope of mine contamination.

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