Iraq’s Muthanna clears 20mn Sq m from landmines

Muthanna ( Iraq’s province of Muthanna has cleared 20 million square meters of land from landmines, the province’s demining official was quoted saying on Saturday.

Hazem Habban told al-Hayat newspaper that the demining directorate has managed to purge nearly 20 million square meters from landmines and unexploded ordnance, and reached to strategic oil sites between the province and Dhi Qar.

The petroleum site is managed by Russian Lukoil company, Habban clarified. The government resorted to the local demining directorate instead of specialized firms, thus saving more than USD20 million, as he put it.

According to Habban, Muthanna is Iraq’s second in terms of the extent of contamination with explosive ordnance, coming after Basra and followed by Maysan and Dhi Qar.

Last February, the Iraqi parliament’s economy and investment committee ordered to halt contracting specialized demining firms over corruption suspicions, having found that contracts had been signed for already clean territories.

The United Nations said in February it had cleared more than 45.000 explosive ordnance from all over Iraq, and that the continuation of purging efforts could need at least a decade.

Iraq’s war against Islamic State since 2014 has left Iraqi soil contaminated with thousands of tons of unexploded ordnance and booby-traps. Leftover explosives have occasionally exploded, killing several civilians since Iraqi authorities declared victory over the extremist group last year.

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