In 2018 Norway increased its donation for demining efforts in Syria and Iraq by $5.5 million, bringing their contributions to $19 million. This is presumably because the territory once held by ISIS required further mine clearance for reoccupation by civilians. This week the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Soreide, stated that,

Mine clearance is crucial to prevent the loss of civilian lives, to ensure access for emergency aid, and to enable hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people to return safely to their homes. This is why we are now increasing our support for mine clearance in Iraq and Syria.”

Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria are the two locations that require the most attention, considering they are the two largest cities in the region and were capital cities of the Islamic State for the duration of their occupation. Mosul was declared expunged of ISIS in July last year, even though Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the Islamic State defeated months earlier.

This has resulted in large amounts of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) being left behind. The United States’ ally, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), declared the city of Raqqa to be in a state of “total liberation” in October 2017. Raqqa was identified by the Islamic State as the “Caliphate’s capital” and is one of the largest cities in Syria; it is suffering from the same challenges as Mosul. The situation presents one of the greatest stabilization and reconstruction challenges in modern history.

Based on the figures provided by the United Nations, an obscene amount ordnance of all types remain to be cleared in both cities. It has been reported that 50 to 70 Raqqa citizens are killed every week due to UXO. Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Soreide stated that,

The human suffering caused by these explosives must be brought to an end. The situation in Raqqa and Mosul is particularly serious. A substantial share of Norway’s support for mine clearance is being channeled to these two cities.”

Featured image: A German trainer observes a Peshmerga soldier attempting to detect improvised explosive devices during training in explosive ordnance disposal and counter IED near Black Tiger Training Camp, Iraq, Feb. 12, 2017. More than 60 Coalition partners have committed themselves to the goal of eliminating the threat posed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria and have contributed in various capacities to the effort. Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve is the global Coalition to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. | U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Josephine Carlson