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Demining to help my community


Armed violence reduction | Iraq | PUBLISHED ON August 29th 2023
Portrait of a woman deminer in Iraq

© N. Mandalawi / HI

Istabraq Lazim Muhammed joined the HI clearance team in Salah al Din, Iraq, last April. She tells us her motivation.

I joined the demining team at HI in March 2023. Before I was a field monitor assistant for an other NGO so I had valuable knowledge of the community and the humanitarian sector.

I want to contribute to my community. I believe that as a woman, I am capable of excelling in any male-dominated field. I am inspired by a friend who was injured by a landmine and lost her legs - a tragic story that further strengthened my decision to become a deminer.

I received training from HI for a month and a half. The training posed initial challenges, with time and dedication, but I grew more comfortable with the demanding work and passed the final exam.

Clearance colleagues are family to me

The clearance team quickly became like family to me. The land surroundings Bajji, in Salah al Din governorate, where we currently carry out clearance activities, show significant challenges in the summer months due to the high temperatures. With the heat, wearing the heavy personal protective equipment, it is exhausting. The dust often hinders visibility, making the task more difficult. Despite these obstacles, we are dedicated to removing any dangerous items: improvised mines, explosive remnants, anti-personnel mines, and other hazardous war remnants from the land.

Clearance operations are of great importance for the community as it makes the land safe for cultivation, enhances livelihoods, and ensures the safety of those who move across the area.

Breaking cultural barriers

Initially, I faced resistance from her family, particularly my brother and mother. However, my father's provided the necessary encouragement and support. Over time, my family supported my decision. My mother prays daily for my safety.

I did not expect that I would become a clearance expert. But it fulfills me in ways I had not imagined, and I found myself making substantial contributions to the field. I want to reach higher positions within the clearance team. I want to make an even greater impact in the field.

Clearance operations in Iraq

HI Iraq is currently conducting land release operations in Baiji, Salah al Din governorate, and Kirkuk, Iraq, generously supported by the German Federal Foreign Office.

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