Bridging a Critical Mine Action Information Management Gap: Complex Conflict Environments

by Isam Ghareeb Barzangy [ iMMAP ] - view pdf

Historically the Republic of Iraq is one of the most severely landmine, explosive remnants of war (ERW), and improvised explosive device (IED) afflicted nations in the world. Though possessed with a robust humanitarian mine action (HMA) program in the three northern Kurdish governorates before the Iraq War (2003–2011), the remainder of the country was largely without any HMA focus until the removal of the Ba’ath regime. Iraq’s border with Iran contains major military minefields and ERW, while small arms and innumerable stockpiles of ammunition remain throughout the country. High levels of landmine, ERW, and IED contamination are a major challenge for the government and HMA responders, and increasingly impair mobility among segments of the civilian population, placing the Iraqi people in an untenable situation. The Iraqi political process remains gridlocked, which negatively impacts the work conducted by Iraqi government institutions, including the Directorate of Mine Action (DMA) in Baghdad.

The current protracted conflict in Iraq relating to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has resulted in the displacement of 3.3 million people and a significant increase in contamination. ISIS has employed mines and IEDs in large quantities in both urban and rural areas, targeting security forces, humanitarian aid workers, and HMA operators, making it extremely dangerous for them and also for returnees.

While landmine, ERW, and IED contamination is extensive in areas taken back from ISIS, the absence of a coordinated information management system exacerbated the level of risk to both the humanitarian actors and the returnees. Due to the geopolitical situation, the majority of retaken areas fell under the shared responsibility of the two national mine action authorities in Iraq: DMA in Baghdad and the Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA) in Erbil. This shared responsibility created a Gray Area in which coordination and information management were absent, preventing organized, coordinated, and evidenced-based HMA activities.

iMMAP in Iraq supports a comprehensive range of HMA information management and capacity-building services to address ERW and IED contamination during and after complex emergencies. Recognizing the urgent need for an information management center, iMMAP in Iraq took the initiative with direct support from the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) to mediate and establish a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two national mine action authorities, DMA and IKMAA, on 14 September 2015. The MoU authorized iMMAP to set up an information management center to manage and coordinate HMA activities within the retaken areas (Gray Area), which fall under the shared responsibility of DMA and IKMAA. This MoU is the first document signed between DMA and IKMAA since 2003.

Due to the armed conflict and the expansion of the Gray Area boundaries, the MoU has resulted in the establishment of a Joint Operations Room (JOR) led and coordinated by iMMAP. JOR provides centralized planning, operations coordination, and information management support directly to HMA organizations working in the Gray Area, filling information gaps and enhancing the HMA response.

The JOR has the following functions:

Figure 1. Quantifying the .1
Figure courtesy of the author.
Achievements Quantity
Non-technical survey (NTS) 14,642,157 sq m
Calculated contaminated area 8,828,842 sq m
Reported cleared area 3,536,164 sq m
Number of recorded hazards 1,027
Number of recorded completion reports 874
Number of destroyed devices 7,012
Number of recorded NTS reports 114
Number of recorded risk education reports 3,157
Number of beneficiaries 117,896

Summary of Achievements

Biography

Isam Ghareeb Barzangy
Country Representative of Iraq & Senior Technical Advisor
iMMAP

Isam Ghareeb BarzangyIsam Ghareeb Barzangy is currently the iMMAP country representative for Iraq and senior technical advisor. Barzangy has held positions from 1999 to 2011 with the United Nations Office for Project Services in various countries in the field of mine action database programming and information management. Barzangy completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of Salahaddin in Erbil, Iraq, and his Master of Business Administration from Robert Kennedy College in Zurich, Switzerland. Barzangy completed the CISR Senior Managers’ Course in ERW and Mine Action in May 2016.


Endnotes

  1. National database IMSMA for Gray Area managed by iMMAP.