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Explosive hazards in Mosul a major threat for years to come

After the military campaign to retake Iraqi territory from the Islamic State, particularly in Mosul, unexploded ordnance remains a big concern for residents returning to their homes two years after liberation.
Iraqi school students pass by destroyed buildings by the war, in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily - RC1D1A58CF70

MOSUL, Iraq — The classroom of 13-year-old boys was vibrant, filled with energy, as the final lesson of the day began, addressing a serious topic. One of the guest instructors held up posters of various suspicious objects. Some were more obviously mortars or hand grenades, but others appeared to be fun things, such as toys and dolls.

Representatives from the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), in coordination with the Iraqi Health and Social Care Organization, were delivering an explosive risk class at the Amer Abdullah School for Boys in Mosul, Iraq. It may be the most important lesson the children there receive, as they face the daily risk of death or injury from unexploded ordnance (UXO). As Pehr Lodhammar, manager of the UNMAS Iraq program described it, “Western Mosul [in particular] has an explosive threat which is unlike anything we have seen in the past.”

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