Iraq

Mine Detection Dog Program

Current need: between 2016 and 2017, MLI is providing 18 mine and explosives detection dogs to the Peshmerga and Mines Advisory Group (MAG) in northern Iraq, Kurdistan. These lifesaving canines will help the Peshmerga counter the threat of ISIS by locating dangerous and deadly improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and landmines, and will assist MAG in expediting and improving its demining operations.

In February 2009, MLI launched the MDD program in Iraq through the donation of six MDDs to MAG Kurdistan. The six dogs were critical to MAG’s demining operations and searched hundreds of thousands of square meters before retiring to live with their handlers. In 2016, MAG retired the remaining two working dogs and requested two additional dogs who would continue the lifesaving work.

Between 2010 and 2013, MLI donated twelve MDDs to the Iraq Mine/UXO Clearance Organization (IMCO), which operates in southern/central Iraq. All of these dogs have done wonderful work in Iraq for the past eight years, searching more than 2 million square meters of mine affected land in difficult conditions. The land has been used to repatriate internally displaced persons, build homes, plant crops, and graze animals – directly impacting thousands of lives.

In March 2016, MLI received a letter of request from the Ministry of Peshmerga requesting our assistance in providing ten explosive-sniffing dogs (EDDs) and six MDDs to help locate mines and explosives in areas in Kurdistan that have recently been liberated from ISIS, so that refugees and internally displaced persons may return home safely. MLI has agreed to support the Peshmerga and will be providing the EDDs and MDDs in 2017.

CHAMPS

MLI’s CHAMPS program was launched in Iraq in 2010 and seven of the MDDs donated to IMCO were sponsored through CHAMPS campaigns. CHAMPS kids in Iraq and the U.S. have worked together to provide rehabilitative care and prostheses to dozens of young mine survivors, and have also enabled survivors to receive vocational training. CHAMPS youth in Iraq have received extensive mine risk education, which they have shared with others, impacting thousands of lives.

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Dozens of young Iraqis have received prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs, and rehabilitative care through the CHAMPS-Iraq campaign. CHAMPS youth were also trained in Mine Risk Education and traveled throughout their communities and in the surrounding areas, sharing their knowledge with more than 5,300 other children living in mine-infested areas in the Baghdad, Basra, and Wassit areas.

Survivors’ Assistance

In 2012, MLI launched a comprehensive Survivors’ Assistance program in Iraq, the Partnership for Iraq (PFI). PFI helped tens of thousands of landmine survivors living in and around Basra, in southern Iraq. With support from private donors and matching funds from the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA), MLI partnered with IMCO and the Polus Center for Social and Economic Development to create a unique and centralized system that provided training and medical assistance to more than 2,200 landmine survivors. Through the project, a national database of landmine survivors was created, which identified and assessed the needs of survivors, enabling organizations like MLI to better meet their needs and provide them with support.

Here are stories of the survivors MLI has reached through CHAMPS and our Survivors’ Assistance programs.

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At the age of 8, Mohammed lost his right leg, both arms, and right eye due to a landmine explosion (left photo). Mohammed was collecting metal scraps left behind from war so that his family could sell them for a small profit. He stopped attending school due to his injuries, but maintained his hope and willingness to learn. Through the CHAMPS Program, Mohammed received new high-quality prostheses to help him return to school and regain his mobility– a right leg, two arms, and an eye (middle photo). He is adjusting to his “new body” and is excited to be able to return to school!

Iman stepped on a landmine and suffered the amputation of her entire right leg. Her family could not afford a prosthetic leg for her, she had never been allowed to attend school, and had no vocational skills before MLI found her, so had little hope for the future. After MLI provided her with a prosthetic leg, Iman’s self-confidence grew, along with her determination to do something with her life. She participated in MLI’s Vocational Sewing Course and learned to sew beautifully (see the dress she sewed in the picture on the right above)! Iman now has hope and is able to sell the items she sews to help support herself and her family.

Landmine Survivor Hussein in Iraq

Hussein was walking to school with his friends in an area contaminated by mines, unbeknownst to them, when one of his friends stepped on a landmine – that friend died, and Hussein and his friend Mohammad were gravely injured. Both injured boys lost one of their legs, but through CHAMPS and MLI’s Survivors’ Assistance programs, MLI was able to provide them with prostheses so they could walk again and attend school. Hussein and Mohammad joined the CHAMPS Team in Iraq – and now they participate in teaching Mine Risk Education to others in local schools and villages.

Left and center photos: Hussein gets fitted for a new prosthetic leg.
Right photo: Hussein (on the right) and Mohammad (on the left), after they receive their new prosthetic legs.