KRG to Review Welfare of Mine Clearance Professionals

Following a demonstration in Erbil by 700 mine action professionals late last year, the Kurdistan Regional Government will review their pay and working status to ensure that they are fairly rewarded for their vital work.

The deminers marched to the Kurdistan Parliament in November to submit their demands. The Speaker Dr Kamal Kirkuki spoke on behalf of the parliament during discussions with the Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA) representatives over security and benefits concerns. The IKMAA representatives were headed by General Director Mr Siraj Barzani.

Dr Kirkuki said, “I understand the deminers' demands and have enormous respect for their vital and extremely dangerous work to clear Kurdistan of mines and prevent deaths. That's why I urge the KRG to listen to their requests and give them the recognition and status that they deserve.” Dr Kirkuki concluded that he would lobby executive officials to help the IKMAA in promoting those rights.

Following the demonstration, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has reaffirmed the importance of the mine clearance teams' operations and will consider increasing their salaries and introducing retirement plans. It is expected that next year a draft law securing rights for mine clearing personnel will be prepared and submitted to parliament.

The other aims of the IKMAA are to secure other benefits for their teams and to unify the two Kurdistan mine agencies which currently operate separately, one in Erbil and Duhok governorates, the other in Suleimaniah governorate. Currently the employment system for mine action professionals in Kurdistan is based on one-year renewable service contracts; reforms to this system will guarantee employees a lasting future in the industry. If the unification is approved by parliament it would form a dependable mine clearance agency with talks of pay and contracts changes on the horizon.

As some of Kurdistan's rural borders are among the most heavily mine contaminated places in the world, the IKMAA’s presence is essential in eliminating the danger and legacy of war. In 2011 alone, IKMAA set a clearance record of over 1 million square meters, cleared through manual electronic processing. The Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency also recently won a clearance contract with the private oil and gas sector, which was signed in September 2011 with Kalegran. This contract will generate revenue for the KRG and secures the position of the Kurdistan’s mine clearance agencies as the major mine action service provider in the Kurdistan Region.

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