U.N. puts Mosul landmines removal cost at US$50 mn

Landmine (representational photo)

Baghdad ( The United Nation’s body on action against landmines has estimated the cost for removing landmines and explosives from the city of Mosul by US$50 million, after the same cost was estimated for lclearing explosives from the whole country.

“Looking at the contamination in Mosul we will need $50 million and $50 million for the rest of the country,” Paul Heslop, chief of planning and management section, U.N. Mine Action Service (UNMAS), told Reuters.

“I could see Iraq needing an Afghanistan-style (demining) operation, which at its peak was 15,000 people about five years ago. You could put 5,000 on the ground in Iraq and they would be gainfully employed,” said Heslop.

Since 2015, UNMAS has cleared 390 priority locations in Falluja and Ramadi in Anbar province, removing more than 2,600 explosive hazards from areas reclaimed from Islamic State.

Islamic State militants, who seized several Iraqi cities, including Mosul, in 2015, have adopted booby-trapping and landmines as a central defensive strategy against opposing government forces. The tactic has proved effective that Iraqi security generals, leading a major campaign to retake Mosul from the extremist group, admitted it required extra cautiousness before staging any security offensives against IS locations.

Since mid October, when Iraq’s government launched an offensive backed by a U.S.-led military coalition, Islamic State militants have been defeated out of the eastern section of Mosul, and operations are imminent at the west of the city.

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