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ERW Clearance, Iraq, UNMAS, 2020, Program Report
In 2020, UNMAS Iraq prioritised the following areas of support:
- Support government and national mine action entities with managing, regulating, and coordinating a mine action response through Technical Support (TS) initiatives;
- Deliver Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) at the community and national level; and
- Provide Explosive Hazard Management (EHM) response in support of humanitarian and stabilization efforts.
Due to the nature of threats posed by EO, UNMAS and its implementing partners are among the first responders allowing the humanitarian community and local authorities to intervene quickly and efficiently to help civilians.
A significant mine action capacity gap remains in Iraq. The unprecedented nature of EO contamination, the sheer magnitude of dispersion, in addition to the untraditional ways in which they were planted, means that all who are in the vicinity of contaminated areas are at grave risk. Sporadic accidents due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and explosive remnants of war (ERW) have shed light on the crucial work that UNMAS together with other mine action organizations and the GoI, continue to conduct daily, and why a need for support remains, both advisory and on the field, to ensure that all clearance conducted abide by the international mine action standards (IMAS).
In March 2020, the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the GoI to adopt swift measures including strict curfew and movement restrictions, applying also to mine action stakeholders. In this context, UNMAS Iraq observed all United Nations (UN) measures, as well as national and local government regulations and restrictions such as curfews, social distancing, wearing face masks, limiting staffing levels, work from home instructions, and movement restrictions in an attempt to contain, or slow down, the spread of COVID- 19. UNMAS prepared business continuity plans and a “Safe Working Place” document to inform, prepare personnel, and mitigate against the spread of the Corona virus during travel, office, and field work. UNMAS Iraq also responded through a “Protect, Plan, and Resume” approach aiming to protect key relationships and processes and maintain a mine action capacity ready to ready to resume activities gradually when restrictions where lifted, which occurred in late June/early July. Throughout, UNMAS was able to maintain communication and technical support to the national authorities.