In the Garmiyan region

Iraqi ministries to assist with demining in Kurdistan

NEWSROOM —  Two Iraqi ministries have agreed to clear mines and explosives in the Garmiyan administration of the Kurdistan Region, coordinating with the Kurdish Mine Action Agency. The affected areas include the sub-districts of Qoratu and Maydan, specifically the villages of Ali Mir and Mahmoud Qajar, and other villages along the Iraq-Iran border in southern Kurdistan.

Kurdish MP Sirwa Mohammed Rashid sent formal letters to the Iraqi ministries of planning and environment, requesting the clearance of these mine-affected areas, remnants from previous conflicts. Rashid announced on Facebook that both ministries have agreed to the clearance, coordinating with the Kurdistan Mine Action Agency.

Ali Miran, Director of Legal Affairs at the Kurdish Mine Action Agency, Miran said that this would mark the first instance of cooperation, allowing the Iraqi government to implement demining projects in the region.

He added that his agency already has an agreement with the Iraqi demining agency for mutual cooperation.

“So far, we have not formally received anything regarding this matter,” Miran stated. “However, if the initiative proceeds, it will be within the framework of the memorandum.”

Miran had previously criticized Iraqi authorities for not cooperating with Kurdistan agencies on demining despite prior discussions.

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.

The mines in Iraq are a legacy of conflicts including the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), the Gulf War in 1991, the 2003 US-led invasion, and extensive mining by ISIS from 2014 to 2017.

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

However, the distribution of landmine risks is uneven across the region, with nearly 60% of mines concentrated in Sulaymaniyah province and other border areas such as Penjwen, Soran, Choman, Halabja, and Garmiyan, underscoring the extensive scope of mine contamination.