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UN expert: De-mining Mosul would take 10 years

February 16, 2018 at 2:58 am

Iraqis start the reconstruction of their buildings after Mosul was freed from Daesh in Mosul on 10 July, 2017 [Yunus Keleş/ Anadolu Agency]

On Wednesday, a UN de-mining expert said that unexploded mines would remain in the Iraqi city of Mosul for a decade, putting at risk the lives of one million civilians or more who want to return to their homeland after the end of Daesh’s three-year control over the city.

Pehr Lodhammar, program director at the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), said that the destruction of Mosul left an estimated 11 million tons of debris, and two thirds of the explosive materials are believed to be buried in rubble.

In a news conference in Geneva, Lodhammar added that “our estimations indicate that it will take more than a decade to clear western Mosul. The density and complexity of the explosive materials will not allow this clearance to be completed within months or even years.”

He went on: “We have noticed munitions that have been dropped from the air, bombs weighing 500 pounds have also been dropped, penetrating the ground for a distance of 15 meters or more. Just taking out one of them takes days and sometimes weeks.”

Read: £30bn pledge to rebuild Iraq

Last year, the United Nations Mine Action Service removed 45,000 explosive materials and 750 improvised explosive devices throughout Iraq, including more than 25,000 in western Mosul alone. Other areas such as Fallujah and Sinjar need further support for demining efforts.

Last week, de-miners discovered a factory, which belongs to Daesh, specializing in the production of improvised explosive devices and that includes a large amount of mortars, artillery shells, grenades, rockets and 250,000 electronic components.