Iraq is drawing detailed maps of areas contaminated by landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO), but is unlikely to clear these areas by a 2018 deadline, says a government official.
“Lack of detailed maps for landmines was one of the major problems and it delayed our mine-clearance efforts because the previous regime planted them randomly,” Deputy Environment Minister Kamal Hussein Latif told IRIN.
“We have teamed up with the ministries of interior and defence since 2011 to start our own survey which will help to identify the exact contaminated areas,” he said.
Despite this, Latif added, the country will not meet the 2018 deadline to clear all landmines and UXO. Iraq set itself the target in 2008 when it joined the Ottawa Convention, under which it committed not to use, produce, acquire or export landmines.
The first province to be mine-mapped is Thi Qar, 400km south of Baghdad, where 98sqkm are confirmed as hazardous. Teams will continue work this year in the most contaminated southern provinces of Basra, Maysan, Muthana and Wasit.
“These areas represent almost 80 percent of the contaminated areas nationwide,” the deputy minister said. “The maps, which we plan to have ready by the end of the year, will help us draw up the best plans and the budget, and identify the number of teams needed and the time required to clear each area.”