Marking the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, the United Nations calls for an Iraq free of all landmines by 2018, and reaffirms its commitment to support the country’s Mine Action programme.
“Each year on 4 April, countries around the world raise awareness about landmines and progress toward their eradication. In Iraq, we want to honour this day by drawing the attention to Iraqi women, men and children who have lost their lives or limbs, who have become blind, or who cannot move freely because of landmines,” said Martin Kobler (pictured), the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Iraq.
Iraq is one of the most mine-contaminated countries in the world, with landmines and unexploded ordnance covering 1,730 square kilometres. Around 1.6 million Iraqis in 1,600 communities, or one in every 20 Iraqis, are affected.
Up to 90 per cent of contaminated land is agricultural, with many landmines also found around major oil fields. Families in contaminated areas live in extremely poor conditions with little access to education, food and public services.
In 2008, Iraq signed the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel mines. Under this convention, Iraq has committed to free the country of landmines by 2018, and to never again use, produce, acquire, or export anti-personnel mines.