European Union External Action

EU leads action to end the scourge of landmines – the example of Iraq

04/04/2018 - 14:19

The 4th of April of each year marks the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. Indeed, for some people war is not over even after a peace treaty. Landmines keep killing and maiming people years after conflict has ended. They continue to instill terror, to stop people from returning to their homes or normal lives. The EU is "proud to be a leading force worldwide in addressing the threat of mines and explosive remnants of war" says High Representative Mogherini.

Landmine, mine clearance, demining, EU, EEAS, Mogherini

Between 2012 and 2016, the EU committed almost 300 million Euros to support mine action in 33 countries worldwide, including in Chad, Colombia, Croatia, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Myanmar, Syria and Ukraine.

As a result of the hard work of mine affected communities and countries, mine clearance organisations, and donors, such as the EU, thousands of lives have been saved and thousands of survivors have been given the opportunity to live a more dignified life. More than 50 million stockpiled mines have been destroyed. Thirty countries that were heavily contaminated are now mine free.

Much more work is still needed. And the achievements already made need to be firmly secured.

Therefore the EU is also a lead supporter of the Ottawa Convention a multilateral instrument to ban the use of anti-personal landmines. Today 164 countries have already signed up to the Convention, including all 28 EU Member States. The EU will continue to promote universal adherence and to support States Parties with their implementation. The EU is also committed to the goal of a mine free world by 2025 as declared in the 2014 Maputo Declaration. Ending the era of anti-personnel mines is possible, but our aspiration will require further sustained efforts.

EU demining work in Iraq

Iraq is one of the most heavily mine- and explosive-remnants-of-war (ERW) contaminated countries in the world. The presence of unexploded ordnances (UXO) of all kinds impedes the security and stability efforts and prevents civilians from returning home safely.

The EU is a long-term partner of Iraq, cooperating in the field of stabilisation, security, humanitarian aid and the political reform agenda. So far, the European Union's humanitarian aid in the country and other forms of financial assistance has amounted to a total of EUR 608 million since the beginning of the crisis.
The European Union, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and the Iraqi authorities are currently operating a joint project aimed at facilitating the stabilisation and recovery process in areas previously occupied by the so-called Da'esh.

By reducing the risks posed by explosive weapons, the project aims at creating the conditions for the sustainable return of internally displaced persons (IDPs). At the same time, UNMAS conducts national capacity building efforts to manage emergency response operations within these areas.
These efforts will help create conditions for a safe, voluntary and dignified return of more than 3 million internally displaced persons.

In the past year and a half, with the EU playing a key role in coordination, UNMAS has conducted the survey and clearance of more than 18 000 000 m² of land in and around Fallujah and around 160 000 m² in Anbar Province.

Thanks to EU support, UNMAS has led and coordinated since the beginning of 2016 emergency response to address the problem of explosive weapons in retaken areas. In addition, the EU has also been funding mine clearance, mine risk education and victim assistance actions implemented by UNICEF, the Mine Advisory Group (MAG) and Handicap International.

How the EU can help clear landmines and support communities

To highlight the EU's commitment to mine action, the European External Action Service and European Commission have produced a Joint Staff Working Document entitled "The European Union's Support for Mine Action Across the World".

This document describes how the EU is funding mine action, listing all the relevant funding instruments and the contact details of the relevant Commission-services. It also presents a selection of representative mine action projects and a comprehensive list of all EU-funded mine action between 2012 and 2016.

Download the brochure on The European Union's Support for Mine Action across the World here.