ITF and the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Partner to Ensure Safety
With the donation from the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in partnership with the local authorities, ITF has actively supported mine clearance efforts in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). This joint effort is facilitating meaningful progress in clearing dangerous minefields, ensuring the safety of the local population, and promoting economic development in the region.
During a visit to Erbil on 20 September 2023, the Head of the Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA), Mr. Jabbar Mustafa Rasool, met with Ambassador Tomaž Lovrenčič, ITF Director, Ms. Katarina Cvikl Balić, Head of ITF Implementation Office in Iraq, and Mr. Hiwa Jameel, ITF Manager in KRI. The opportunity was used to discuss the ongoing partnership between KRI and Slovenia in the field of mine action. Their discussion also focused on meeting the urgent needs of mine-affected areas in the future.
The Head of IKMAA expressed his gratitude to ITF and Slovenia for their continuous support. With the help of the latter, ITF has provided crucial assistance to the IKMAA, particularly by supporting mine clearance teams' logistics. Both parties expressed hope that the partnership will be able to continue in 2024.
During a ceremony in Sulaymaniyah on September 21, the delegation from IKMAA, the local authorities, and ITF completed an official handover of three cleared minefields in the touristically and strategically important Dokan district for safe future use. This event marked the formal completion of clearance of 138,905 sq. meters of contaminated land, and the removal of an astounding 1,053 anti-personnel mines, and 38 various types of unexploded ordnance. 30,000 persons benefited from the completion of demining works in this location alone.
Iraq faces a significant and ongoing challenge as it deals with landmines, explosive remnants of war, and cluster munitions, which make it one of the most mine/UXO-contaminated places on earth. The contamination poses a serious threat to the safety and well-being of local citizens, making the land unusable for farming, development, and tourism. Additionally, the constant risk of accidental explosions adds to the danger, highlighting the pressing shortage of mine action assistance in the region.
Slovenia's support plays an indispensable role in addressing these challenges. This ongoing partnership demonstrates the positive impact it can have on mine-affected regions, promoting peace, security, and economic development. As the work continues, KRI and ITF remain dedicated to making the region mine-free and ensuring the safety and prosperity of its people.