A member of Iraq's federal police stands in front of explosives in Mosul. Photo: AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – For the first time since Mosul was liberated from ISIS militants in July, the United Nations and the European Union have been granted access to the Old City in order to survey, assess and clear explosives so that civilians can begin safely return home.
“The clearance of explosives creates the conditions for a safe, voluntary and dignified return of internally displaced persons who are striving to return safely to their homes", said Tomas Reyes Ortega, Deputy Head of Mission at the EU Delegation in Baghdad in press release published Wednesday.
The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) will be working alongside the Iraqi Security Forces to facilitate the process of rehabilitating infrastructure which will help in stabilizing the city.
"The EU has recently agreed on a further contribution of 10 million euros in support of UNMAS' work in Iraq,” Reyes Ortega added.
UNMAS began their initial assessment of the Old City on November 20 and within the first two days more than 100 explosives were found on Ninewah Road, the main street used to cross through the Old City.
The reason for the assessment was to have a better understanding of hazards and to report them to UN partners involved in the rehabilitation process such as UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO and UNHABITAT.
Clearing these hazards is the first step in the rehabilitation of infrastructure, which could take several years to complete.
“The extent of explosive contamination in Mosul is of a previously unseen magnitude,” stated Pehr Lodhammar, Senior Programme Manager for UNMAS Iraq.
“The generous support from the EU is critical for UNMAS to establish access to Mosul Old City,” he added.
Three years of ISIS control over Mosul and military operations to liberate the city left key infrastructure in ruins, posing the largest rebuilding and stabilization challenges recently in the world.
The UN alone has requested $707 million for stabilization programs in western Mosul, $174 million in eastern Mosul and another $232 million to stabilize other areas of Iraq.