Just as in 2019, Belgium supports the activities of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Iraq and Syria with a contribution of 2 million euros. Civilian casualties still occur daily in both countries. Children in particular run the risk of being injured or killed by mines or other explosive weapons. Explosive remnants of war contribute to the insecurity and difficult living conditions that drives Iraqis and Syrians to flee. The mine clearance efforts are part of Belgium’s commitment to the stabilization of areas reclaimed from IS (Islamic State).
Humanitarian demining saves lives and prevents suffering for the civilian population. Moreover, it is a lever for the safe return of displaced people, the resumption of agriculture, the restoration of basic infrastructure and the restart of economic activities. UNMAS carries out a wide range of activities, including demining, risk awareness and victim assistance.
In this way, Belgium contributes to the alleviation of humanitarian needs in Syria and to the stabilization necessary in the fight against Daesh (IS). In Iraq, the funds are used in Sinjar, the region where Daesh used mass violence against the Yezidi minority, including sexual violence against women and slavery. UNMAS works here with mixed demining teams, with both Yezidis and non-Yezidis and both women and men. The attention UNMAS pays to the gender aspect in its demining activities is of particular importance for Belgium.