Iraq: Laying the Groundwork for Weapons Clearance


In early 2016, Handicap International launched its weapons clearance actions in the governorates of Kirkuk and Diyala, in Iraq. Clearance operations will soon start in these regions, after several months of preliminary non-technical surveys and the marking of contaminated areas. Non-technical surveys are being conducted to map and mark areas contaminated by explosive remnants of war and IEDs from past wars and recent contamination in areas that were occupied by the Islamic State. 

“One of the main challenges of non-technical surveys in Iraq is that we’re not just dealing with landmines but all kinds of explosive spread across extensive areas,”says Emmanuel Sauvage, Handicap International’s mine action regional coordinator. 

The organization’s clearance operations will begin at the end of the summer, particularly in the city of Jalawla and its surroundings in the Diyala Governorate. This city has seen considerable fighting and residents are still unable to access many of the neighborhoods. Booby traps and improvised devices are still present in many streets, homes, and buildings. The inhabitants of Jalawla are gradually starting to move back, although the area is still not safe. Handicap International’s mine action activities, which includes weapons clearance, victim assistance, and risk education, aim at making the town and its suburbs safe for residents.