Iraq is one of the countries in the world most severely affected by landmines, cluster munitions remnants (CMR) and other explosive remnants of war (ERW).
According to Mine Action Review 2019, Iraq is the world’s most contaminated country by extent of mined area and the 4th most contaminated country in the world in terms of cluster bomb contamination. The Iran-Iraq war in the 1980’s, the Gulf War in 1991, the 2003 invasion of Iraq and internal conflicts have littered Iraq with millions of explosive ordnance, including unexploded cluster bombs and landmines. The majority of the cluster bomb contamination is found in the southern region of Iraq, while the conventional landmines are found along the border to Iran.
The already extensive contamination was made significantly worse by the conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) from 2014 to 2017, where ISIL left massive amounts of improvised landmines and explosive devices in northern and central Iraq.
Decades of warfare and strife have left Iraq with dire humanitarian needs threatening to further destabilize the country. Three years of continuous conflict and economic stagnation have impacted nearly every aspect of the Iraqi society. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Humanitarian Needs Overview for Iraq 2020, “4.1 million Iraqis are in need of humanitarian aid”.
NPA has been running a Mine Action and Disarmament Programme in Iraq since 1995. Currently we have three operational projects: in Southern Iraq, based out in Basra (operations in Basra and Muthanna Governorates); in Central Iraq, based out in Ramadi (operations in Anbar Governorate) and in Northern Iraq, based out in Mosul (operations in Ninewa Governorate). Overall management is located at NPA’s country office in Baghdad.
Due to extensive cluster bomb contamination, NPA supports Iraq to meet its article 4 obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions by conducting survey and clearance of cluster bombs and providing advisory support to the NMAA in southern Iraq.
In response to the humanitarian crisis in the wake of ISIL’s occupation, in 2017, NPA started up Mine Action activities in Ninewa Governorate. From 2018, operations expanded into Anbar Governorate, where NPA is undertaking survey, clearance and explosive ordnance risk education activities.
NPA Iraq has 10 Non-technical survey teams, 25 manual Multi-tasking teams, seven mechanical teams, and three mine detection dog teams responding to the cluster bomb, improvised landmine/explosive devices and other contamination from explosives throughout Iraq.
NPA draws upon its operational experience from operations within the broader NPA country portfolio to develop the capacity of national mine action authorities. In 2010, NPA placed international advisers within the Regional Mine Action Centre (RMAC) South to provide capacity development and advice on operational planning and quality management. NPA has an international adviser embedded with the RMAC North supporting operational planning of operations in the former ISIL held territory and leading the revision of the national mine action standards and the development of a quality management system.