According to the British channel "iNews", Iraq has been declared as the most landmine-contaminated country in the world, with removal efforts still lagging for decades. As of the end of 2021, 1,733 square kilometers of Iraqi land was reported as contaminated with landmines. The data was released on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Iraq war by the Landmine and Cluster Munition Observatory and the Mine Action Newsletter.
The British charity, MAG, which has 800 staff in Iraq alone, stated that years of conflict since the 1980s have left Iraq rife with landmines and unexploded bombs.
MAG's CEO, Darren Cormack, was quoted as saying, "We have been working in Iraq since 1992, and I have seen firsthand the ongoing impact of landmine pollution resulting from multiple conflicts, including the 2003 invasion."
Cormack also pointed to the Iran-Iraq War from 1980 to 1988, the 1991 Gulf War, internal conflicts, and the 2003 invasion, all of which contributed to making Iraq the most landmine-contaminated country in the world. He added that "ISIS's occupation of large areas, starting in 2014, has led to a worsening of the extensive pollution of primitive landmines and other explosive materials."
Cormack warned that children are often the victims of explosives, and that landmines continue to claim "lives and limbs" in Iraq.
The spread of these deadly landmines is hindering Iraq's recovery after the war, and Cormack explained that "the problem of landmines also hinders development and prevents displaced persons from returning to their homes, frustrating reconstruction efforts after the conflict." He concluded that "it is a problem that will take decades to resolve."
The report also noted that relief workers in Iraq have warned that the country is still in crisis 20 years after the US-led invasion, with about a third of the country living in poverty. The charity Save the Children was quoted as saying that children are forced to work and marry to finance their education.