2017 To Walk the Earth in Safety: Iraq

Bureau of Political-Military Affairs

DOS NADR - CWD 23,177 37,835 15,000 229,166
DOS Other 0 0 0 992
CDC 0 0 0 450
DoD 573 0 58 105,028
COUNTRY TOTAL 23,750 37,835 15,058 335,636

Dollars in thousands


Iraq is highly contaminated by landmines and UXO from conflicts dating back to the 1940s through the current ongoing conflict with ISIS. Numerous large barrier minefields and UXO remain along the Iran/Iraq border as a result of the 1980–1988 conflict between the two nations. Coalition operations from 1990 to 1991 and 2003 to 2011 scattered significant amounts of UXO throughout the country, with most contamination concentrated in the south.

Date: 2017 Description: Young girls at a camp for displaced families in Iraq listen to mine risk education after taking part in a soccer session organized by Spirit of Soccer (SoS). © Photo courtesy of SoS.

More recently, the activities of ISIS in northern and western Iraq have dramatically altered an already complex CWD landscape. The extent of the contamination caused by ISIS in both rural and urban areas remains unclear, as security and access concerns limit survey and clearance activities. The commencement of survey and clearance efforts in areas liberated from ISIS, such as Ramadi, indicate unprecedented levels of urban contamination by devices more sophisticated and difficult to clear than landmines. Contamination poses a threat to refugees and internally displaced persons returning home.

From 2003 to 2016, the United States invested more than $335.6 million in Iraq for the clearance and disposal of landmines, UXO, and excess conventional weapons and munitions.

In 2016, the Department of State supported the following implementing partners:

  • DDG conducted survey and clearance operations in southern Iraq (including of U.S.-origin UXO), assisted in developing the program capacity of the Regional Mine Action Center-South (RMAC-S) in coordination with the Directorate of Mine Action (DMA), and delivered mine risk education reaching 90,725 beneficiaries in northern Iraq.
  • Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) deployed survey and clearance teams to increase civilian security for returning displaced families in liberated villages between Mosul and Erbil.
  • Information Management and Mine Action Programs (iMMAP) advisors began work on establishing a joint DMA and the Iraq Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA) information management database to track humanitarian mine action in areas liberated from ISIS, and facilitate the flow of data among various mine action nongovernmental organizations assisting in reconstruction efforts, as envisioned in a memorandum of understanding signed in September 2015 by DMA, IKMAA, and iMMAP. iMMAP also provided operational management, strategic planning, survivor assistance support, and technical expertise.
  • MAG conducted survey, clearance, and spot tasks to safely remove and destroy mines and UXO from northern Iraq, and began clearing newly liberated areas for the safe return of displaced families such as the Yazidi population. MAG also provided mine risk education to increase the security of civilians affected by ISIS.
  • MLI provided training through a mine detection dog partnership program with a local Iraqi demining organization.
  • NPA provided technical advisors to RMAC-S to assist in its role as a regulatory body to coordinate and monitor mine action activities. The project enabled RMAC-S to implement non-technical surveys designed to provide a more accurate picture of the mine and UXO situation in southern Iraq.
  • SoS implemented mine risk education using soccer to teach children, including those in camps for displaced families, about the risks of mines and UXO. SoS also incorporated trauma training for youth affected by ISIS-related violence, and pursued local league and tournament sponsorships, targeting young Iraqi males at risk of joining extremist groups.
  • Janus began surveying, marking, and clearing UXO and IEDs from key infrastructure areas in the provinces of Anbar and Ninewa.

With funding from the Department of Defense, HD R&D provided support for mine action assistance in partnership with MAG. HD R&D and MAG continued evaluations of the Rebel Crusher contaminated soil processing plant, several excavator sifting attachments, a stand-alone orbital sifter, and a commercial front-loader attachment. The technology is used for completing complicated, low-density mine clearance tasks around villages and agricultural areas in northern Iraq that have been mine-affected for decades. These technologies have assisted in the clearance of 2,200 mines and pieces of UXO from 245,000 cubic meters of soil.