Dutch government allocates extra €1 million for de-mining efforts in Mosul operation

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Kurdish Peshmerga fighters walk with their weapons as smoke rises from a site of clashes south of Daquq, north of Baghdad. File photo: Reuters

ARA News

Erbil – The Dutch government allocated an extra €1 million for de-mining operations in Mosul in order to help the return of displaced inhabitants to their homes after the liberation of Mosul City in northern Iraq from ISIS jihadists.

“[The return of displaced civilians to Mosul] will only be possible if the many explosives that have been placed there by ISIS are cleared as soon as possible,” the US-led coalition said in a statement.

“This was announced by [Dutch] foreign minister Bert Koenders at an international meeting in Paris, on the 20th October 2016. Participants, including Iraq and other countries involved in the anti-ISIS coalition, discussed a plan for the future of Mosul once ISIS has been expelled. This current amount is in addition to the €10 million that the Netherlands is already contributing to de‑mining activities in Iraq starting this year,” the coalition said.

Dutch FM Koenders also emphasized the importance of de-mining areas that have been liberated from ISIS for the return of the IDPs.

“Recently liberated areas are generally littered with explosives. By de-mining these locations, displaced residents can return home safely and resume their lives. The focus can then shift to repairing roads, bridges and public utilities.”

The minister added that Mosul needs to be stabilised as soon as possible, to serve as a bulwark of resistance against ISIS’s activities in the neighbouring region and also suggested to incorporate lessons learned in the liberated areas such as Tikrit, Ramadi and Fallujah for the strategy for Mosul.

Danish Refugee Council (DRC) MENA Region Director Peter Klansø urged the international community to do more after a fact finding mission to Kurdistan last week.

“Safe return is contingent upon adequate clearing of IEDs [improvised explosive devices] and other explosives and the current capacity to cope with the scale of the problem requires urgent attention,” said Klansø, adding that protection of IDPs remains a grave concern to humanitarian organisations.

“As the worst is still to come, it is important we keep particular focus on the protection of civilians as the fight moves closer into central Mosul,” he said.

The Kurdish government have previously asked for more assistance in demining efforts.

The Kurdish Peshmerga forces lack demining capabilities and have lost many fighters as a result of ISIS mines.

The Dutch government is also helping the Kurdish Peshmerga forces by providing them with military training. The Netherlands also provides more than €13 million for humanitarian aid in Iraq.

Besides funding de-mining operations, the Netherlands is contributing €25 million to a UN fund that seeks to accelerate the stabilisation of liberated cities by restoring basic infrastructure.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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