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Sommaire: June 5, 2003: Iraq: Commission grants EUR 10 million to combat landmines (Brussels)
The European Commission has granted €10 million in Humanitarian Aid to help protect people affected by unexploded landmines and bombs in Iraq. Funds allocated via the Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), which comes under the responsibility of Commissioner Poul Nielson, will provide safety training, information on the location of such unexploded landmines and bombs and some minefield clearance. Programmes will be implemented by international agencies operating in the region. ECHO has contributed more than €57 million in humanitarian aid to the region since 2000.
Following the recent war in Iraq a significant level of contamination from unexploded landmines and bombs continues to threaten the population and to hamper humanitarian aid activities. According to the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), 77% of children's injuries in Northern Iraq are attributed to playing or tampering with unexploded landmines and bombs. MAG, a non-governmental organisation specialised in mine clearance, registered more than 340 incidents related to unexploded landmines, missiles and cluster munitions in April and May. These explosive devices are often stockpiled in areas and buildings easily accessible to civilians. They constrain access to agricultural land and basic social services such as health centres and schools, and hamper the safe and timely distribution of humanitarian aid.
This funding decision will help collect and disseminate information on likely locations of high concentrations of unexploded landmines and bombs, and develop local capacity through formal training sessions and raise awareness through Mine Risk Education. The money will also provide landmine safety training to humanitarian aid actors and help to identify, mark and/or clear hazards that prevent delivery of humanitarian aid.
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