MAG (pronounced “Mag”) – Mines Advisory Group – is a neutral and impartial humanitarian organisation that clears the remnants of conflict for the benefit of communities worldwide.
In May, a team from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) were working in the mountains near Halabja, Sulimaniyah to restore a traditional irrigation system for a nearby village when they discovered several landmines scattered around the site.
The irrigation system, known as a karez, was being rebuilt to provide the people of Hawar, a remote community, with a sustainable source of water for crops and for drinking.
Close to the Iranian border, and high in the mountains, this karez is a 40-minute steep hike on foot from the nearest road.
During the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s the area was strategically important to the military, which had dozens of positions there.
This site was identified by IOM as a project that would help the local community in Hawar – devastated decades of violence and oppression – to improve its development and build itself a more prosperous future.
But, as MAG knows from nearly 20 years of working in the region, in northern Iraq where there are former military positions there are almost always landmines.
When the landmines were discovered, the project had to stop. It was not safe to carry on the excavating.
Lucie Dupertuis, Project Officer for IOM’s Iraq Mission, thought that because of the site was so remote that the project could be doomed.