The United Nations warned on Tuesday (April 4) that Islamic State (ISIS) laid mines and other unexploded ordnance in Iraq and Syria could take five decades to clear.
Speaking on International Mine Awareness Day on Tuesday, Agnes Marcaillou, director of the United Nations Mine Action Service, said making huge swathes of Iraq and Syria habitable again after ISIS had laid landmines would involve an effort of ”huge magnitude,” and that it could cost upwards of $180 million a year.
The effort in Mosul alone could cost $50 million annually the U.N. official warned.
“The more funding there is available the more teams we will be able to hire, the more training we will be able to dispense to Iraqi forces and others,” Marcaillou added.
As Iraqi forces continue to liberate areas from the ultra-hardline Sunni militant group in the country, they encounter territories planted with hidden mines and explosives, ensuring that even after ISIS has been forced from the land, a dangerous legacy lives on in the soil.
Iraq is littered with mines that serve as a dangerous and often fatal reminder of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, the 1991 Gulf War, the 2003 Iraq War and subsequent conflicts.
As a result of the battle against Islamic State (ISIS), large swathes of territory taken over by the militant group intensified the problem of landmines and unexploded ordnance since 2014.
The Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA) announced on Tuesday (April 4) however that 65% of the Kurdistan Region’s land that had been afflicted with landmines and other unexploded ordnance has now been cleared by demining teams.