Since the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, Iraq has been subject to a number of internal and external conflicts, including two internationally led military interventions, and most recently the heavy fighting between the Iraqi army, supported by the military forces of Iraqi Kurdistan, and Islamic State (IS).
The decades of warfare have left the country heavily contaminated by mines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW). Based on the need to clear this heavy contamination, DDG has worked in Southern Iraq, Basra governorate since 2003, successfully providing Mine/ERW Risk Education (MRE) and performing Community Liaison (CL) work in addition to Battle Area Clearance (BAC) and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) within Basra Governorate.
DDG began establishing a presence in northern areas of Iraq (Erbil and Duhok), jointly with other Danish Refugee Council (DRC) operations, in 2015. DDG’s programme in the northern part of Iraq consists of two main elements: 1) a MRE capacity to deliver training designed to enable people to identify, avoid and report the particular threat presented by both mines, ERW and Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), and; 2) a technical capacity able to perform emergency EOD.
MRE operations in the North will initially focus on 12 IDP and refugee camps of which four are in Erbil and eight are in Duhok totaling 150,000 IDPs and refugees. DDG will provide MRE to refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who are likely to travel through areas contaminated by ERW and therefore face risks to their safety in doing so. If security permits, MRE teams will be dispatched to the former conflict areas in Ninewa to provide MRE to the returned population as well, who will be living with an on-going threat due to ERW contamination.
In addition, DDG carries out on-going needs assessment related to ERW contamination, engaging in survey work and coordination with other Mine Action actors such as the Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA), the Directorate of Mine Action (DMA) and the wider (I)NGO community. This work continues to inform future operational planning in order to ensure the most efficient use of the limited resources.