Belgium has allocated another €1.5 million to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) for its operations in Iraq and Syria to help the region tackle the lingering presence of explosive ordnances.
Devastated by foreign intervention, ISIS and civil wars, the need for mine clearance in Syria and Iraq remains very high today as they continue to pose a threat to civilians. Since 2013, the UN estimates that in Syria, an average of six people per day have been killed or injured by explosive ordnance.
Following 40 years of conflict, Iraq is also one of the world’s most mine-contaminated countries. It has approximately 2,236 square kilometres of recorded contaminated areas, including in liberated areas, UNMAS says.
In recent years, Belgium has supported demining programmes in these two countries to the tune of more than €9.5 million.
“This aid also consolidates the success of the international coalition against the Islamic State,” the Belgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Contamination by mines and other explosive remnants continues to have an impact in these countries, the Belgian Foreign Ministry stressed. Not only does it impact the safety of civilians, but it can also affect access to humanitarian aid, reconstruction and stabilisation. Furthermore, civilians’ access to education and healthcare can also be greatly affected by the lingering presence of explosive ordnances.
Founded in 1997, UNMAS’ mine clearance includes surveying, mapping and marking, as well as detecting and destroying mines, ERW and IEDs.
From 1 January to 28 February 2023, the UN removed from Iraqi territory 457 explosive remnants of war (ERW) and 624 improvised explosive devices (IED) in liberated areas from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
The UN body does not only remove mines and also provide victim support. In Syria, UNMAS provided victim assistance (VA) services to 8,131 people in need across Syria, while also providing medical referrals, provision of prosthetics and rehabilitation support, and cash assistance were delivered.
Source: The Brussels Times