GENEVA / UNMAS IRAQ SYRIA

07-Feb-2019 00:03:25
The UN Mine Action Serivce (UNMAS) said demining and other explosives clearance operations are ongoing in former ISIL-held areas of Iraq, but the work is painstaking and even more dangerous because of 3D contamination. UNTV CH
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STORY: GENEVA / UNMAS IRAQ SYRIA
TRT: 3:25
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 07 FEBRUARY 2019, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
SHOTLIST
FILE - GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Wide shot, Palais des Nations exterior

07 FEBRUARY 2019, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

2. Wide shot, journalist and speakers
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Pehr Lodhammar, Chief of the United Nation Mine Action Service in Iraq (UNMAS):
“In Iraq, we are looking at almost two million people who are still displaced outside of their homes, their towns, their villages, and our work is to ensure that they can return. We are also looking at over 100,000 houses, over 100,000 houses destroyed or damaged potentially with explosives assets in them.”
4. Med shot, journalists
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Agnes Marcaillou, Director, United Nations Mine Action Service:
“Mine action is about suffering, it’s about people waking up at night with nightmares. It’s about kids who have their future jeopardized by disabilities; disabilities being mental health or physical disabilities. It’s about a country that cannot get back on its feet, cannot have all the tools they need to revive their economies because their lands are contaminated.”
6. Close up, journalist
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Pehr Lodhammar, Chief of the United Nation Mine Action Service in Iraq (UNMAS):
“In 2018 only, we removed close to 17,000 explosives assets. Two thousand of these - it’s a staggering amount - were improvised explosive devices. 2,000 devices with pressure plate fuse triggers, trip wires, infra-red devices, anti-lift devices, remote control devices, combinations of the five. This also included 782 suicide belts, many of them actually fitted on fallen ISIS fighters in debris, in rubble.”
8. Med shot, speakers from behind
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Pehr Lodhammar, Chief of the United Nation Mine Action Service in Iraq (UNMAS):
“What we are looking at now, is that we have to sift through the debris, we have to sift through the rubble, we have to use mechanical equipment dig out parts of the rubble, spread it out evenly, inspect it and that takes a lot longer time.”
10. Close up, journalist
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Pehr Lodhammar, Chief of the United Nation Mine Action Service in Iraq (UNMAS):
“These are not mines any longer, an anti-personnel mine would have up to 230, 250 grammes of explosives in it. Now we are looking at 10 to 20 kilos. People are getting injured yes, but there is also more of a tendency that people are actually getting killed by those devices rather than injured, because of the explosive weight, and the fact that many of them are within a container that is made of from metal, creating fragmentation.”
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Agnes Marcaillou, Director, United Nations Mine Action Service:
“I signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Government of Syria, on 4 July 2018. It is a standard document for the United Nations to sign with any government when we are to establish a presence. So, what was the significance of this document? It formalised the acceptance from the Government of Syria to have UNMAS open an office – and, of course, open an office to carry out activities. The activities are humanitarian mine action activities.”
13. Close up, journalist
14. Close up, camera
15. Med shot, journalist
STORYLINE
The UN Mine Action Serivce (UNMAS) said demining and other explosives clearance operations are ongoing in former ISIL-held areas of Iraq, but the work is painstaking and even more dangerous because of 3D contamination.

Military campaigns and conflict to retake Iraq’s cities from the extremists displaced more than 5.8 million people between 2014 and 2017.

UNMAS said many are still homeless or unable to return home because of explosive hazard contamination linked to airstrikes and improvised explosive devices left behind by ISIL, and sometimes even planted on dead fighters.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva today (07 Feb), Pehr Lodhammar, Chief of UNMAS in Iraq said there are almost two million people “who are still displaced outside of their homes, their towns, their villages and our work is to ensure that they can return.” He said there were over “100,000 houses destroyed or damaged - potentially with explosives assets in them.”

The update on UNMAS’s work – which complements that of the Government of Iraq – coincides with the launch of an online resource showing the status of mine action in 19 countries and territories, along with current funding status and project proposals.

The 2019 Mine Action Portfolio constitutes a solid and UN-vetted compilation of requests for assistance put together by affected countries, according to UNMAS, with total needs amounting to 495 million USD.

The highest funding requirement is in post-conflict zones including Iraq (265 million USD), Afghanistan (95 million USD) and Syria (50 million USD).

UNMAS Director Agnès Marcaillou underlined the importance of her agency’s mission to ordinary people caught up in conflict.

SOUNDBITE (English) Agnes Marcaillou, Director, United Nations Mine Action Service:
“Mine action is about suffering, it’s about people waking up at night with nightmares. It’s about kids who have their future jeopardized by disabilities; disabilities being mental health or physical disabilities. It’s about a country that cannot get back on its feet, cannot have all the tools they need to revive their economies because their lands are contaminated.”

In Iraq’s Mosul – a former ISIL stronghold – much of the Old City was damaged and destroyed in fighting to drive out the extremists in 2017.

Countless buildings were also booby-trapped, Lodhammar explained, noting the additional complications caused by having to work in an urban setting with 3D contamination, rather than a rural location, where mines are usually buried beneath your feet.

SOUNDBITE (English) Pehr Lodhammar, Chief of the United Nation Mine Action Service in Iraq (UNMAS):
“In 2018 only, we removed close to 17,000 explosives assets. Two thousand of these - it’s a staggering amount - were improvised explosive devices. 2,000 devices with pressure plate fuse triggers, trip wires, infra-red devices, anti-lift devices, remote control devices, combinations of the five. This also included 782 suicide belts, many of them actually fitted on fallen ISIS fighters in debris, in rubble.”

Initially, clearing unexploded devices was relatively straightforward, as they were scattered on the ground, the UNMAS Iraq chief noted. Now, the operation is much more complicated, involving the use of camera-carrying drones to assess the dangers, and heavy plant machinery.

SOUNDBITE (English) Pehr Lodhammar, Chief of the United Nation Mine Action Service in Iraq (UNMAS):
“What we are looking at now, is that we have to sift through the debris, we have to sift through the rubble, we have to use mechanical equipment dig out parts of the rubble, spread it out evenly, inspect it and that takes a lot longer time.”

The presence of much larger explosive weapons is also significantly altering the work that UNMAS has to do. This includes unearthing unexploded bombs dropped by coalition airstrikes against ISIL, which are in many cases buried several metres deep in the earth.

SOUNDBITE (English) Pehr Lodhammar, Chief of the United Nation Mine Action Service in Iraq (UNMAS):
“These are not mines any longer, an anti-personnel mine would have up to 230, 250 grammes of explosives in it. Now we are looking at 10 to 20 kilos. People are getting injured yes, but there is also more of a tendency that people are actually getting killed by those devices rather than injured, because of the explosive weight, and the fact that many of them are within a container that is made of from metal, creating fragmentation.”

Marcaillou confirmed to reporters that UNMAS signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Syria, to prepare for humanitarian mine-clearance. She said it was standard document for the United Nations to sign with any government when we are to establish a presence which “formalised the acceptance from the Government of Syria to have UNMAS open an office” to carry out humanitarian mine action activities.”
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