U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
December 26, 2013
Iraq: Decade of U.S. Support for Conventional Weapons Destruction Saves Lives and Builds Capacity
In 2013, we mark ten years of U.S. Government assistance to Iraq for Conventional Weapons Destruction, including Humanitarian Mine Action, and are proud of the programs and partnerships that enable countless Iraqi citizens to live and work in their communities more safely. The United States has invested more than $235 million in Iraq since 2003 toward the clearance and safe disposal of landmines, unexploded ordnance, and excess conventional weapons and munitions. This assistance, directed through several Iraqi and international nongovernmental organizations, has made significant progress toward protecting communities from potential risks, restoring access to land and infrastructure, and developing Iraqi capacity to manage weapons abatement programs independently over the long term.
The Landmine/Unexploded Ordnance Challenge
Iraq faces a significant challenge from landmines and unexploded ordnance as a result of conflicts dating back to the 1940s. In addition, large stocks of abandoned ordnance and unstable, poorly-secured munitions stockpiles also remain a threat to communities across the country. In FY 2009, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs invested $4.3 million with the Iraq Mine/UXO Clearance Organization (IMCO) to conduct a CWD program that included the destruction of 37,939 weapons, ranging from pistols to 120mm mortars.
Explosive remnants of war, such as unexploded artillery shells, mortars, and other munitions still present daily hazards to Iraqi citizens across the country. Information Management and Mine Action Programs (iMMAP) conducted two Landmine Impact Surveys in 2006 and 2011 that estimated 1,513 million square meters (585 square miles) of land in Iraq contain as many as 20 million landmines and millions more pieces of unexploded ordnance.
As many as 1,430 Iraqi cities, towns and villages remain at risk from explosive hazards. Landmines and unexploded ordnance contaminate significant acreage of agricultural land, making clearance an economic necessity for communities to regain their livelihoods as well as a security priority for Iraq’s future. Additional surveys will determine the full extent of the challenge facing Iraq in the years to come.
FY 2012 Accomplishments
During Fiscal Year 2012 (the last fiscal year for which complete data is available), the Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs provided $25 million in Iraq for Conventional Weapons Destruction (CWD) efforts that:
• Safely cleared landmines and unexploded ordnance from more than 687 million square meters (265 square miles) of land across Iraq, which has revitalized economic and agricultural development throughout the nation.
• Destroyed more than 135,430 pieces of unexploded ordnance, and abandoned or otherwise at-risk munitions.
• Provided outreach education to more than 40,000 Iraqi men, women and children about potential dangers from landmines and unexploded ordnance in their communities.
U.S.-funded partner initiatives include:
• Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD): With U.S. support and funding, the GICHD completed an assessment of Iraq’s mine action capabilities and developed a two- to three-year development plan for Iraqi training and capacity development. GICHD also led a course with the Ministry of Defense and Directorate for Mine Action staff on quality assurance (QA) and quality control and on the use of demining machines in October 2012.
• Information Management and Mine Action Programs (iMMAP): With U.S. financial support, advisors continue to provide operational management, strategic planning, and Victims’ Assistance support. In FY 2012, iMMAP delivered six workshops, 13 training courses, and trained 128 students in information management, data collection, and mapping. In addition, iMMAP also trained 50 rehabilitation technicians to treat thousands of landmine/unexploded ordnance and improvised explosive device survivors.
• Iraq Mine/UXO Clearance Organization (IMCO) Central/Southern Iraq: IMCO supported four technical advisors and provided landmine and unexploded ordnance clearance remediation in central and southern Iraq. Since May 2012, IMCO has returned over 3,300,000 square meters (815 acres) of land to communities through quality control checks and clearance methodologies. In addition, IMCO conducted technical and non-technical surveys of over 1,800,000 square meters (450 acres) of land, and located and handed over almost 2000 landmines and pieces of UXO to the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.
• MAG (Mines Advisory Group) Northern and Central CWD: As a result of minefield and Battle Area Clearance in FY 2012, MAG has returned more than two million square meters (507 acres) of land to local communities for agriculture and economic development.
• Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI): In partnership with IMCO, in FY 2012 MLI expanded its mine detection dog program in southern Iraq and linked three American schools to three Iraqi schools through its Children Against Mines Program to promote mine risk education in schools and provide medical assistance to young survivors.
• MLI and the Polus Center for Social and Economic Development: Working together, MLI and the Polus Center oversaw the Partnership for Iraq Program, which is establishing a cost-sharing program to create a center to provide vocational and medical rehabilitation for thousands of mine and war survivors in Basrah and the surrounding area.
• Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA): NPA provided technical advisors to the Regional Mine Action Center – South (RMAC-S) to assist the RMAC-S in fulfilling its role as a regulatory body that is able to coordinate and monitor mine action activities. This project has enabled the RMAC-S to implement a Non-Technical Survey (NTS) designed to provide a more accurate picture of the mine/ERW situation in southern Iraq.
• Spirit of Soccer (SoS): Spirit of Soccer expanded its landmine/unexploded ordnance risk education projects throughout Iraq. Spirit of Soccer is implementing innovative projects using soccer as a means to promote education and outreach to children about risks from landmines and unexploded ordnance.
U.S. Government FY 2013 Conventional Weapons Destruction funding allocated for Iraq totals $23.75 million. The Bureau of Political-Military Affairs is using that funding to continue humanitarian mine action programs similar to those described above and will continue these efforts in FY 2014.
The United States is the world’s single largest financial supporter of efforts to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance. Since 1993, the United States has contributed more than $2.1 billion to more than 90 countries around the world to reduce the harmful worldwide effects of at-risk, illicitly proliferated, and indiscriminately used conventional weapons of war. For more information on U.S. humanitarian demining and Conventional Weapons Destruction programs, check out the latest edition of our annual report, To Walk the Earth in Safety.
For further information, please contact David McKeeby in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at PM-CPA@state.gov.