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It’s not rubbish: UN Environment experts assist Kirkuk with debris management

Kirkuk, 29 March 2019 - Today marked the completion of the visit from the United Nations Environment Programme to Kirkuk Governorate. “After previous successful interventions in Mosul (in February 2018) and Anbar (in November 2018), the time was right to come to Kirkuk”, said Hassan Partow, UN Environment Programme Manager and head of the delegation.


The visit culminated in a technical workshop on debris management on 27-28 March 2019 at Kirkuk University. Opened by the acting Governor of Kirkuk, Mr. Rakan Al Joubouri, and the President of the University, Dr. Abbas Hassan Taqi, the workshop brought together over 140 experts from key government departments implementing debris removal efforts. Experts on demining and explosives, policy matters, the environment, universities and the mayors of the affected areas were also present.

The UN Mine Action Service, the United Nations Development Programme, the UN Refugee Agency, the International Organization for Migration, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq and non-governmental partners such as the Norwegian Refugee Council, OxFam, MedAir and Relief International, which are supporting the government’s efforts to reconstruct 116 villages destroyed in the fight against ISIS, also participated.

“While Kirkuk’s huge amount of rubble may be viewed as a problem, all this debris also offers an opportunity to generate alternative livelihoods through recycling and reuse of the material”, said Martin Bjerregaard, Senior Advisor on Debris Management for UN Environment. “However, debris is currently disposed of in a spontaneous and ad-hoc manner which means that this valuable recycling potential is being lost”.

Participants at the workshop agreed on an integrated debris management plan, which will enable environmentally-sensitive disposal and recycling of debris to ensure residents can return to their villages and rebuild their homes and livelihoods in a sustainable manner.

The Mayor of Riyad District delivered a passionate plea in favour of debris management. He had lost his leg from unexploded ordnance buried in the debris. The recommendations on risk education and the safe disposal of hazardous materials, were immediately accepted. Most of the roads in these areas are still unpaved, and recycled debris forms excellent paving material. Specialized machines were requested from government departments to aid in the debris removal and from donors to purchase a small crusher to allow municipalities start the debris management.

Text by: Mr. Martijn Dalhuijsen, Liaison Officer, Development Coordination Office, UNAMI
Photos: UNAMI PIO/Harith Al-Obaidi

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Last modified on Sunday, 31 March 2019 15:49