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Cablegate: (Corrected Copy) Humanitarian Demining in Iraq

VZCZCXRO8835
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #4173/01 3571750
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231750Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4994
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 004173

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: IZ KHDP
SUBJECT: (CORRECTED COPY) HUMANITARIAN DEMINING IN IRAQ
FACES FUNDING CRISIS

This is a corrected copy of Baghdad 04077. Paragraph 4
contains additional information on affected programs.

1. (U) SUMMARY: Over three decades of conflicts have made
Iraq one of the most severely mine/unexploded ordnance
(UXO) afflicted nations in the world. With over 1600
communities out of the 12,000 communities surveyed reportedly
impacted by landmines, Iraq needs an effective clearance
capacity to reclaim this land. DOS-funded clearance capacity
programs in Iraq have totaled $110 million since 2003, and
future funding remains vital to economic redevelopment in
landmine-afflicted areas. Program accomplishments, however,
are now at risk unless additional funding is provided.
Without additional funds from subsequent CR allocations, we
will be forced to shut down operations in Iraq in late 2008.
END SUMMARY.

UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE THREATENS RETURN TO STABILITY
--------------------------------------------- ----

2. (U) Iraq is one of the most severely mine/unexploded
ordnance (UXO) afflicted nations in the world as a
consequence of over three decades of conflict. The Iraq
National Mine Action Authority (NMAA) estimates that
landmines are scattered over an estimated 8,001 square
kilometers in the 13 of the 18 provinces surveyed, and it is
known that hundreds of cached and abandoned ordnance sites
exist throughout the country, posing an immediate
humanitarian concern and a ready source of explosives for
terrorists, insurgents, and criminals. Unfortunately there
has not been reliable Iraqi reporting on casualties
attributed to landmines, UXO, or ERW since 2003. Information
that is available comes from the Landmine Impact Survey
conducted by the NGO Information Management and Mine Action
Program (IMMAP) in 13 of the 18 Iraqi provinces between June
2004 and June 2006. The survey was a standardized,
UN-approved questionnaire, recognized by all the major donors
involved in humanitarian demining, which determined that
there were 1,622 communities affected (out of 12,000
surveyed). Those communities identified 577 fatalities as a
result of landmines, UXO or ERW in the 24 months previous to
the survey and another 7,672 fatalities prior to that.

EXPLOSIVE REMNANTS OF WAR PROGRAM IN IRAQ
-----------------------------------------

3. (U) The Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) Program in Iraq
funds a combination of minefield and battle area clearance
(BAC) operations and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD)
missions by the Iraqi Mine/UXO Clearance Organization (IMCO)
and the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), as well as the internal
management and development of IMCO as a viable NGO. It also
includes landmine impact survey efforts by IMMAP, mentioned
above, in 13 of 18 Iraqi provinces with potential to complete
the remaining five provinces as security improves. This data
is entered into the Iraqi Information Management System for
Mine Action (IMSMA) for use by the Iraqi National Mine Action
Authority (NMAA) resident in the Ministry of the Environment.
The NMAA in turn coordinates with other ministries in order
to identify those hazardous areas planned for reconstruction
and development projects which would require clearance. The
data is also shared with the MNC-I Engineer Staff Section
(C7) and Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) as it
potentially affects force protection and clearance efforts.
USG funding for these two NGOs totaled $12 million for 2007.

4. (U) This program contributes to post-battle operations,
improves the humanitarian environment for returning
populations, especially children, and increases prospects for
donor and Iraqi budget funded economic development by
clearing land for agricultural and other economic use. The
Department-funded clearance capacity programs in Iraq are
vital to economic redevelopment and improvement of the
security situation. The Iraq Explosive Remnants of War (ERW)
program, with more than 1,000 Iraqis trained in explosive
detection and removal of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO), is
actively clearing mines and removing ordnance, thus helping
to protect the lives of Coalition soldiers, to improve public
safety and to reduce insurgent access to deadly munitions.
Absent additional funds, the ERW program in the north will be
forced to terminate staff and close training and maintenance
facilities. Likewise, Baghdad programs will come to a halt.
In addition to the cost of restarting these programs,
shutdown will likely lead to the loss of highly skilled
personnel and the transfer of equipment to other venues.
Programs currently under operation that would be negatively
affected are:

--The training and equipping a wholly-Iraqi ordnance
clearance organization, the Iraq Mine/Unexploded Ordnance
(UXO) Clearance Organization (IMCO) for independent
operations by 2009.

BAGHDAD 00004173 002 OF 002

--IMCO is currently conducting clearance operations in
Central and Southern Iraq and training the Iraqi Army Bomb
Disposal Companies in UXO and stockpiled ordnance
destruction. IED disarmament training is conducted in
conjunction with this program.

--PM/WRA has initiated the process of transferring over
USD$30 million of vehicles, equipment, and training
facilities over to IMCO.

5. (SBU) In light of the critical nature of this support to
the Iraqi reconstruction and development effort, Post
strongly recommends that every effort be made to encourage
continued support from Congress to fund these humanitarian
ERW programs.
CROCKER

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