A United Nations mines expert said nearly 3 billion square metres in Iraq are contaminated with mines and remnants of war.
The head of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Iraq, Pehr Lodhammar told the local Al-Sabah newspaper that according to figures provided by the Iraqi government, the area contaminated with mines and remnants of the two wars in Iraq amounts to 2.9 billion square metres, of which 257.37 million square metres is in the northern Kurdistan region.
According to the UN official, the number of war remnants and other forms of explosive materials, including improvised explosive devices (IEDs), increased after Daesh took control of several Iraqi provinces.
He explained that UNMAS has funded mines surveys in the governorates of Nineveh, Kirkuk, Anbar, Saladin and Diyala, and reported the areas suspected of contamination with mines as well as areas with confirmed contamination.
Al-Sabah newspaper reported that Basra Governorate is considered the most polluted province in Iraq due to the presence of minefields from previous wars including the Iran-Iraq war, the 1991 Gulf War and the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The paper quoted Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor as confirming that Iraq is one of the most polluted countries in the world in terms of mines, cluster munitions and war remnants.