Iraq factsheet - an overview

Situation Report
Originally published
The scale of the problem
  • The majority of the minefields were laid 20 years ago during the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988.

  • The scale of the landmine problem in Iraqi Kurdistan is wide in global terms; only Angola and Afghanistan are as affected.

  • MAG's data unit estimates 760 villages in Iraq are affected by the presence of mines and almost 220 million sq/m of land is suspected as being mined.

  • Recorded casualties from landmines and unexploded bomb-related accidents since 1991 come to 7,427 injuries and 3,699 deaths.

  • MAG has marked 1,174 minefields in Iraq covering an area of 108 million sq/m.

  • Figures on how many mines in Iraq vary between eight to 12 million. This does not include unexploded mortars, shells, grenades and other debris of war.
MAG's approach to the problem

To create training for local staff to survey and mark off suspected mined areas, deactivate and clear mines and bombs and promote safe behaviour through mine awareness programmes. Since beginning its work in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1991 MAG has increased the skills and abilities of its local staff to plan, manage and implement its activities. MAG now has more than 700 Kurdish staff in Iraq.

The clearance of mined land is undertaken on a prioritised basis i.e. the impact a clearance programme would have on the community. Clearing a thousand mines in deserted areas has less priority than clear 30 in a Mine Action Teams (MATs) are set up, and are a flexible, multi-skilled team which includes de-mining, explosive bomb disposal and community liaison.

The Impact of the work

The only permanent solution to the mine problem in Kurdistan is the complete detection and destruction of all the landmines and unexploded bombs. MAG has made massive strides towards this aim:

  • Casualty rates have fallen consistently over the years, from more than 2,498 recorded mine and unexploded bomb-related deaths and injuries in 1991 to fewer than 166 in 2002.

  • 186 minefields previously affected by landmines are now completely clear.

  • MAG has cleared and destroyed more than 91,000 mines and almost 346,000 items of unexploded bombs, returning more than 6 million sq/m to poor, rural communities across Iraq.

  • MAG has physically marked 1,174 minefields covering an area of more than 108m sq/m.

  • MAG has conducted nearly 7,000 mine awareness team visits to effected communities in Iraq and created a children's mine education programme in 219 schools in mined villages. Mine Awareness education is now available to all children in the region as part of their primary school education.
The prospects for the future are positive if international support is maintained and funds continue to be raised. Both of the major political parties in Iraqi Kurdistan (the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) have endorsed the principles contained in the Ottawa Treaty on landmines that bans the use of, stockpile and production of landmines.

MAG's Credit Card donor line: 0800 0723 999 (Visa, Switch, Mastercard, CAF accepted) /

MAG has been clearing unexploded mines and bombs in northern Iraq every day since 1992

MAG has offices around the world including: Iraq, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Lao, Angola, Lebanon

MAG America is MAG's sister organisation and is based in Washington

MAG has been clearing mines, rebuilding lives and communities world-wide since 1989

MAG is the only humanitarian mine action charity in the world to employ local women and mine survivors as de-miners