Press Release

Belgium Contribution Enables UNMAS Iraq to Continue Supporting the Government and the National Mine Action Operators

27 November 2023

Baghdad, 27 November 2023 – The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Iraq welcomes a renewed contribution of EUR 750,000 (approximately USD 802,000) from the Government of Belgium, in support of life-saving mine action activities in Iraq. Activities will include delivering sustainable and efficient explosive hazard management, support as well as providing technical and advisory support for the national mine action authorities. This is the fifth consecutive annual contribution from Belgium with a total amount of EUR 6,250,000 million (approximately USD 6,000,000).

Explosive ordnance contamination across Iraq, including improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the areas liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), continues to threaten the lives of civilians in many governorates of Iraq. As of July 2023, there are approximately 2.942 square kilometers of recorded contaminated areas across Iraq (federal Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq). Since 2014, millions of Iraqis have been displaced and nearly 1.1 million of them remain internally displaced.

The generous contribution from the Government of Belgium will support the clearance of explosive ordnance in the areas liberated from ISIL to enable the safe and dignified return of internally displaced people, and will also allow for reconstruction efforts to go forward. In furtherance, this contribution will support explosive ordnance risk education efforts to protect civilians, with messages and means tailored to reach women, girls, boys and men, and vulnerable communities.

Furthermore, the additional funding from the Government of Belgium will reinforce UNMAS advisory and technical support to the national mine action authorities. Through continued technical support, the ability of the national authorities to autonomously lead, manage, and implement the mine action response in Iraq will be strengthened. In addition, UNMAS will also be able to further extend its support towards national mine action Non-Governmental Organisations in order to enable them to independently lead and manage humanitarian mine action response.

Remarking on the contribution, Mr. Serge Dickschen, Ambassador of Belgium, stated “Belgium is pleased to continue its long-standing support to the crucial mine action of UNMAS in Iraq. Despite significant progress, contamination by explosive ordnance remains a significant obstacle to the safe and dignified return of Iraqis displaced by the successive conflicts, as well as a hindrance to socio-economic opportunities and sustainable development efforts undertaken by the Iraqi authorities with the support of the international community. Belgium particularly welcomes the increased emphasis placed by UNMAS on strengthening the national capacities, at the level of both the government and non-government organizations, as well as on enhancing the local coordination between the various stakeholders in mine action. Belgium values the encouraging progress made in gender-mainstreaming and women’s empowerment through mine action.”

Mr. Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Iraq Chief Mine Action Programme, added: “The generous contribution from the government of Belgium will enable UNMAS Iraq to continue the necessary support to the Government of Iraq and national operators. With continued assistance from Belgium, UNMAS will continue to facilitate a safe environment for Iraqis to live their lives dignified, unimpeded, and without fear of explosive hazards.”

Pehr Lodhammar

Pehr Lodhammar

Chief Mine Action Programme
Mr. Pehr Lodhammar is the Chief Mine Action Programme in Iraq, managing all international and national staff in the program, in addition to donor relations and resource mobilization. As a key advocate for the mine action sector in Iraq, he is often involved with coordination with the highest levels of the Iraqi government, and represents UNMAS at international venues and conferences. Mr. Lodhammar holds a Master’s Degree in International Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid, and has more than 31 years of military and humanitarian mine action experience.

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