Opinion: Danger does not disappear when the fighting ends

Two years since Mosul was retaken by the Iraqi armed forces, huge swathes of land in Mosul as well as many other cities in Iraq are littered with explosive remnants of war. In the aftermath of the conflict with the Islamic State, some 500,000 people are still displaced in camps and the thousands of injured people depend on access to appropriate care. A shocking reminder of the legacy of war, years after the fighting is over.

The level of contamination is unprecedented in Iraq: there are explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices in fields, homes, sometimes even behind refrigerator doors. Demining experts say they’ve never seen contamination of this scale in any other conflict. And, this is added to the areas that were already contaminated during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. Explosive remnants of war are weapons that haven’t exploded on impact. These explosive weapons can stay active for months, even years, just waiting for someone, perhaps a small child, to pick them up, before exploding.

In Iraq, people have been living in conflict-affected areas, risking their lives day in day out. Today, two years after the retake of Mosul, that risk hasn’t diminished – it will take decades to rid Mosul of all the explosive remnants of this horrific war. Every day, in Iraq, our teams are meeting families who have had a mother, a father, a child, or a sibling injured by explosive weapons. They are treating the victims of conflict with all the means they have. They are destroying these horrid devices, so no-one else gets injured or dies. Sadly children are the first victims of these horrific weapons. With the innocence of youth, they reach for brightly coloured things they see on the ground or in a bush. If they survive, their life is devastated, changed forever.

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Source: Thompson Reuters