Civilians fleeing Old Mosul district amid crossfire between Iraqi armed forces and ISIS militants. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The European Union (EU) will be funding demining projects in Iraq to allow Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) return to their homes safely in areas that have been liberated from ISIS in the past two years.
“We are demining the areas liberated from Da'esh to allow people of Iraq go back safely to their homes and their lives,” said High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
The funding comes from European Externa l Action Service (EEAS) and it aims to clear areas where ISIS has planted IEDs and other explosives in the course of its occupation.
The main target of these bombs and IEDs was the Iraqi army and its convoys but often civilians fell victim especially upon their return or escape during battle.
Toys, books and even classrooms have been turned into bombs and minefields by ISIS militants.
Since 2015, the EU has contributed 309.25 million Euros to humanitarian projects in Iraq and is one of the top donors for decontamination and demining efforts important in stabilizing the country.
“This work is essential. Our European Union experts are demining the liberated areas in Iraq; our engineers are working at the Mosul dam; our investments are supporting the economy” Mogherini said.
“Military power is essential [under certain circumstances], but it is not enough – neither to end the war nor to win the peace,” Mogherini added.
The EU delegation in Iraq has taken the lead in coordinating demining projects with different organizations across the country operating together to effectively address the process.
In the past year and a half, the United Nations Mining Action Service (UNMAS), under EU coordination, has surveyed and cleared over 1.8 million square meters of land in and around Fallujah and approximately 160,000 square meters in Anbar region.
In Ramadi, more than 6,000 students were able to return to their studies due to the clearance of the university which had been completely booby-trapped by ISIS. Another 2,000 people were able to resume their jobs at the city’s teaching hospital.
As the last battle continues to eliminate ISIS from Mosul, students are eagerly anticipating the clearance of explosives at the once renowned Mosul University campus.
“I am thankful for the efforts of the EU to make my city safe,” said one university student, Mohammed.
Now, with the fall of ISIS on the horizon, time is of the essence for the EU to continue and complete their demining projects.
Over 3 million of Iraqi’s displaced are waiting to return home and the EU wants to ensure their right to do so safely.