'Daily danger'

Shepherd killed, sister injured by landmine in Basra

BASRA — A shepherd was killed and his younger sister seriously injured by an explosion from a landmine in the Rumaila Desert, west of Basra, authorities said.

The incident underscores the daily dangers herders and farmers encounter in the area, according to the mayor of Al-Zubair.

“A landmine exploded while the siblings were herding sheep in the southern part of the Rumaila Desert, near Al-Zubair district,” a security source told 964media.

The explosion claimed the life of an 18-year-old shepherd and left his 12-year-old sister with severe injuries.

Authorities transported the boy’s body to the forensic medicine department, and his sister was taken to Al-Zubair Hospital for treatment.

“The majority of shepherds and farmers in this region face such dangers daily due to remnants of war,” Mayor Abbas Maher told 964media. He noted that numerous appeals have been made to clear the desert of these hazardous remnants, but the response from relevant authorities has been inadequate.

Iraq remains one of the world’s most heavily mined countries, grappling with a legacy of landmines and unexploded ordnance that dates back to conflicts over several decades. According to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, by the end of 2022, the country had reported nearly 35,000 casualties due to landmines, unexploded ordnance, and improvised explosive devices.

The scale of the problem is exacerbated by the various phases of conflict that have contributed to the contamination, including the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, the Gulf War in the early 1990s, and the more recent conflicts involving the Islamic State group. This extensive history has left vast areas, both within and beyond conflict zones, heavily contaminated with explosive remnants of war.

Efforts to clear these mines have been ongoing, involving both local authorities and international organizations. However, the sheer extent of the affected areas, combined with ongoing security challenges and financial constraints, has made demining operations difficult and protracted.