One in 10 internally displaced persons (IDPs) not planning to return home cites explosive hazards as the reason.
If the safe removal of explosive hazards including improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is delayed, the ability for those who have been displaced to return is compromised. Similarly is the ability of the Government of Iraq and the international community hampered to undertake critical post-conflict interventions. Over 50% of Iraqis who were displaced by ISIL and the military operations following to defeat ISIL have returned home.
From the REACH Initiative in partnership with Camp Coordination / Management (CCCM) Cluster nation-wide intentions survey carried out in IDP camps between 12 December 2017 and 14 January 2018, 52% of people interviewed were not planning to return home. Of the 52% that will not return, 21% state this is due to the possible presence of IEDs and unexploded ordnance. In effect, one in 10 IDPs in the camps surveyed are not returning home because of the fear of explosive hazard contamination in or nearby their homes.
UNMAS has been working in greater Mosul clearing explosive hazards since November 2016 and has recently commenced survey and clearance operations in the Old City in western Mosul to complement the work already carried out by the Government of Iraq. During operations, the complexity and variety of items recovered can only be described as staggering and previously unseen. Items recovered include a range of conventional ammunition, IEDs, air-dropped munitions and stockpiles of ISIL-manufactured munitions abandoned in buildings that had been converted and used as bomb making factories. Clearance activities have been further complicated because the majority of contamination in Mosul is mixed in with or covered by rubble from damaged and destroyed buildings.
UNMAS and implementing partners working in the Old City have received many reports of explosive hazard contamination, especially in or near houses, as those displaced return home. The presence of UNMAS clearance teams in the Old City has provided an opportunity for residents to report suspected dangerous items directly to the teams for removal. However, it is anticipated the proportion of households reporting explosive hazards will increase as families return.
European Union Ambassador to Iraq, H.E. Ramon Blecua said: "This illustrates in tangible terms the EU's commitment in addressing explosive hazards. Their clearance is a pre-condition for stabilization, as the presence of such hazards will continue to impede security and stability efforts if not properly addressed. As chair of the Coalition's Explosive Hazard Management Sub-Group, the EU is determined to tackle this scourge head-on and support Iraq in strengthening the government's strategic coordination mechanisms. All these efforts will contribute to facilitating the safe returns of the Iraqi people, who have suffered long enough".
"We eliminate the explosive threat along roads, under bridges, from power and water plants, from schools, from critical infrastructure, so that those displaced by conflict can return to their homes, begin again to work, to educate their children, to contribute to society, to live a normal life. This would all be impossible without the support from our donors. We are outmost grateful for the generous support from the EU," stated Mr. Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Senior Programme Manager.
UNMAS, with support from the European Union as part of a broader programme response, continues to facilitate the safe, dignified and voluntary return of families to Mosul and other liberated areas. Since 1 November 2017, UNMAS teams in Mosul have assessed and cleared over 2.1 million square metres, conducted more than 650 assessments and found and rendered safe approximately 30,000 explosive hazards.
Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Iraq Programme, Senior Programme Manager email@example.com