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Update: Erbil 13-March-2004

Deminers At Work

We followed two Mines Advisory Group (MAG) deminers at work south of Erbil in northern Iraq: one aged 25yrs and another who claimed to be 58yrs, but appeared much older. We wired audio on the two and recorded their breathing as they worked. They also talked in Kurdish about what they were doing and watching it, we really felt like we were inside their heads. The demining supervisor directed about a dozen explosions while we were there, detonating mines detected and removed during the days work. He said that every day his team of 12-men clears between 30 and 40 mines, mainly of Italian-origin and Iraqi copies of the Soviet PMN mine.

Street Interviews

Today Brian went downtown to the main market together with our translator/body guard to interview people on the street about landmines. Nearly everyone approached was willing to talk with us, but no women you see very few in the street.

Sulimanya

Tomorrow morning we head to Sulimanya, about 2_ hours drive away over the mountains. MAG is clearing a number of villages destroyed during the 1988 Anfal campaign, a brutal operation conducted under the leadership of Comrade Ali Hassan al-Majid, AKA "Chemical Ali" against the peshmerga, or Kurdish resistance, with disastrous consequences. Many of the inhabitants that survived cannot return home, due to the widespread presence of mines. It should be very interesting.

For more information, please check out:

Mines Advisory Group

HRW report on the Anfal Campaign (July 1993)