GENEVA / EXPLOSIVE HAZARDS IRAQ

14-Feb-2018 00:01:49
Extensive conflict in Iraq to retake cities from ISIS has displaced more than 5.8 million people since 2014, with the associated military campaigns having significantly contaminated areas with explosive hazards, including Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). UNTV CH
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STORY: GENEVA / EXPLOSIVE HAZARDS IRAQ
TRT: 01:53
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 14 FEBRUARY 2018, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
SHOTLIST
1. Exterior, UN Geneva, Palais des Nations
2. Wide shot, briefing room
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Pehr Lodhammar, United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) Senior Programme Manager for Iraq:
“I’ve never seen complexity similar to what we see in Western Mosul right now. I’ve never seen the density and the number and types of devices that we encounter in Western Mosul. As an example, we find remote controlled improvised explosive devices, we find infrared explosive devices, we find pressure plate devices, we find anti-lift devices, all types of improvised explosives you can imagine.”
4. Close up, hands typing
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Pehr Lodhammar, United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) Senior Programme Manager for Iraq:
“Last week we had a team finding hundreds of explosive hazards in only one day. But on top of that they also found a factory where ISIS had been manufacturing improvised explosive devices, and in one day we found 250,000 electronic components. It basically looked as if there had been a tornado going through an electronics store.”
6. Close up, journalist
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Pehr Lodhammar, United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) Senior Programme Manager for Iraq:
“The problem with the rubble is that we estimate that only a third of the explosives are on top of the surface the rest is under the surface, it is under rubble, so once people are returning, once they start digging, once they start doing reconstruction, rehabilitation, there will be explosive hazards surfacing.”
8. Wide shot, journalists and cameramen
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Pehr Lodhammar, United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) Senior Programme Manager for Iraq:
“We estimate that it’s going to be over a decade, before Western Mosul has been cleared.”
10. Med shot, cameramen
11. Med shot, journalists
12. Med shot, journalists
STORYLINE
Extensive conflict in Iraq to retake cities from ISIS has displaced more than 5.8 million people since 2014, with the associated military campaigns having significantly contaminated areas with explosive hazards, including Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

Pehr Lodhammar, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) Senior Programme Manager for Iraq, told reporters in Geneva today (14 Feb) that clearing these hazards is a massive challenge in order to bring peace and stability back to the liberated areas of the country.

Speaking of one of the areas where UNMAS has been most active in supporting Iraqi authorities with defusing these threats, he said “I’ve never seen complexity similar to what we see in Western Mosul right now,” adding that “as an example we find remote-controlled improvised explosive devices, we find infrared explosive devices, we find pressure plate devices, we find anti-lift devices, all types of improvised explosives you can imagine.”

The presence of explosive hazards in liberated areas impedes urgently needed humanitarian response efforts, and prevents civilians from safely returning home. The explosive hazards problem is complex, extensive, and expensive to deal with. The Government of Iraq, the UN, and other national and international stakeholders have prioritized the clearance of explosive hazards as the essential ‘first step’ before any rehabilitation or reconstruction work can proceed.

One of the major challenges, apart from the sheer number of explosive hazards present in Iraq after years of conflict, is that many of the explosive devices look nothing like traditional landmines or unexploded ordnance.

Lodhammar said “last week we had a team finding hundreds of explosive hazards in only one day. But on top of that they also found a factory where ISIS had been manufacturing improvised explosive devices, and in one day we found 250,000 electronic components.”

He added “it basically looked as if there had been a tornado going through an electronics store.”

Another challenge is that most explosive hazards remain hidden under the rubble of war.

Lodhammar said “the problem with the rubble is that we estimate that only a third of the explosives are on top of the surface the rest is under the surface, it is under rubble, so once people are returning, once they start digging, once they start doing reconstruction, rehabilitation, there will be explosive hazards surfacing.”

Neutralizing IEDs left behind by ISIS and other explosive hazards from the bombing campaigns against them takes place in particularly hard conditions, including extremely high temperatures in the summer. But the biggest challenges ahead are likely to the time and the money required to solve this legacy of conflict in Iraq.

Lodhammar noted “we estimate that it’s going to be over a decade, before Western Mosul has been cleared.”

The financial requirements for UNMAS to support the Iraqi authorities in these efforts for 2018 – in Western Mosul alone – are currently estimated at an additional USD 260 million, on top of the existing budget of USD 76 million and USD 40 million in pledged funds.
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