The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) welcomes an additional contribution from the Republic of Estonia in support of mine action activities in Iraq. The Republic of Estonia has prioritized mine action, including clearance of explosives in areas liberated from ISIL, as essential activities before the rehabilitation and reconstruction work can be carried out and civilians can start to return home safely. Estonia attended the International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq which was held in Kuwait on 12 – 14 February 2018, and pledged the funds towards Mine Action at the conference.
The Government of Iraq’s National Plan for Reconstruction and Development, launched at the Kuwait Conference, acknowledges the barrier that explosive hazard contamination presents to reconstruction and development efforts. The plan confirms that “the first step shall be declaring the safety of public regions and spaces in order to resume normal daily life and to proceed with the clean-up and reconstruction operations.” Furthermore, Iraq’s explosive hazard management authority, the Directorate of Mine Action (DMA), in its National Strategic and Executive Plan for Mine Action 2017-2021, outlined its commitment to work towards an Iraq “free from explosive hazard, where everyone lives in a safe environment.”
The density, variety and complex nature of explosive contamination in liberated areas is unprecedented, and far exceeds current response capacity. The enormous scale of the contamination problem will become clearer over time, therefore a comprehensive emergency explosive hazard management response is required as an essential first step to address the problem.
“Speedy stabilization of areas liberated from ISIL is our priority in order to enable safe return of refugees and displaced people. Estonia has been supporting humanitarian demining and mine action provided by UNMAS already for more than 10 years and we see the necessity to continue our contribution to stabilization efforts. We highly value professionalism, dedication and empathy with which UNMAS is fulfilling its mission to make a safer world.” stated the Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sven Mikser.
Mr. Pehr Lodhammar, Senior Programme Manager of UNMAS Iraq stated that “We are pleased to receive an additional contribution from the Republic of Estonia, which will undoubtedly support the critical work of UNMAS and contribute to better coordination and delivery of critical emergency response to explosive hazards.”
The contribution from the Republic of Estonia, added to other bilateral funding, will more specifically be used to survey suspected areas to gain a better picture of the scope and scale of explosive hazard contamination and provide risk education in priority areas to support the safe, dignified and voluntary return of displaced people.