Iraq: Qadir Karam - A village reborn

News and Press Release
Originally published
Over a glass of tea, Jalal Salih Kaka Rash expresses his thanks for MAG's work in his village, work that has allowed him to finally return home.

Generations of his family lived in the village before being forced to flee in 1988 during the Anfal campaign. They returned to Qadir Karam in the summer of 2004 with the aim of rebuilding their lives and have received $1,000 and 10 tonnes of cement from the Kurdish Regional Government to build a new house on the site where their previous home had been destroyed.

Mr Kaka Rash sighs as he explains that landmines are a big problem for him. He worries about his children playing in the minefields, and at the nearby water well he found 12 anti-tank mines. He and his neighbours are relieved that MAG will be checking all the wells in the area and delighted with the work already carried out.

MAG's work in Qadir Karam began just after the start of the war in 2003, when advanced teams discovered huge areas of mined land surrounding the village and thousands of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines stored in the mosque. As the army fled, the bridge across the nearby river had been destroyed making access extremely difficult. Locals who remained in the area regularly visited the mosque despite the dangers; if one bomb exploded it would have caused a chain reaction, completely destroying the building and killing or injuring anyone inside. MAG's Mine Action Teams (MATs) conducted emergency work and removed and destroyed the stockpile item by item. The access route was also cleared allowing repairs on the bridge to be carried out.

Work stopped for a short time when the security situation deteriorated but MAG returned in May 2004 and provided essential survey, 'demarcation', or minefield marking, and further clearance work.

Currently there are two MATs clearing minefields over a vast area of 300,000sq/m and thanks to MAG's work the original population is now beginning to go home. More than 250 families returned in the summer of 2004, with many more expected over the coming months. Like Mr Kaka Rash and his family, each will be given a grant and cement to rebuild their homes. In addition, businesses such as shops and restaurants will be developed and the surrounding agricultural land will be sown with wheat.

Qadir Karam is just one of many villages that MAG has helped in Iraq. It's an example of how your support and our commitment to both saving lives and working with local people can rebuild communities and ensure future prosperity.