2019-01-14 17:33:00

In 2018, 21 people were killed by mines in the Kurdistan Region, with 14 more injured by to the detonation of decades-old explosives, a local agency reported on Monday.

“Over the past year, we have been able to clear 6,425,164 square kilometers of land from mines,” the head of Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA), Siraj Barzani, said during a press conference held in Erbil.

He mentioned that, in total, they had cleaned 65 mine-fields in the autonomous Kurdistan Region in 2018.

Most mines date back to the 1980s, from the Iran-Iraq war as the Iraqi regime planted thousands of explosives on the border to hinder the advance of Iranian troops. The eight-year war between the two neighboring states began in September 1980 and lasted until August 1988.

Barzani mentioned that his agency last year had removed 3,891 mines, 3,832 of which were anti-personnel with the remaining 59 being anti-tank mines.

“In the past year, there were 35 victims of mine explosions,” with 21 of them losing their lives, and “14 more were severely injured,” Barzani continued. “Among them were IKMAA staff members.”

According to the agency’s statistics, 171,881 people have benefitted from the IKMAA’s courses raising social awareness of mine safety.

Since 1991, many local and international mine-related organizations have contributed to clear explosives from the Iraq-Iran border. Large swaths of territory remain a danger to civilians as they have yet to be de-mined or have only been partially cleared.

There are an estimated 314 million square meters of affected land across the Kurdistan Region, according to the IKMAA.

Editing by Nadia Riva