Iran-Iraq War continues to claim lives
Mansur Moradi began panicking as blood poured from both his legs after an unexpected explosion. Stranded in a minefield in western Iran, any movement he made could trigger yet another blast. The mountainous region is covered with millions of anti-personnel landmines laid during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War. Ultimately, the 36-year-old survived, thanks to luck. Iranian border guards managed to safely retrieve him, unlike many other similar victims, and transport him to a nearby hospital by air ambulance.
The prevalence of landmines in western Iran, largely home to ethnic minorities, including Kurds, Lurs and Arabs, poses a serious hazard to the lives of millions of Iranians. The people living in the border provinces of West Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Kermanshah, Ilam and Khuzestan continue to experience serious injuries as well as death from landmine explosions nearly 30 years after the end of the war with Iraq, a devastating conflict that saw the widespread use of anti-personnel mines.
While memories of air raid sirens, warplanes breaking the sound barrier and a constant fear of bombs and missiles might have faded in some parts of Iran, residents of the border areas between Iran and Iraq are regularly reminded of the costs of the war. An estimated 20 million landmines were laid in western Iran during the hostilities with Iraq and during fighting between Kurdish militants and the Tehran government in the 1980s. On top of this, another 7 million anti-personnel mines were scattered on the other side of the border, laid by the Baghdad government in Iraqi Kurdistan.
The Iranian government launched de-mining efforts after the war, but its approach has been insufficient as well as mismanaged. Despite official claims about the end of de-mining operations in some areas, people still lose their lives or sustain long-term injuries on a regular basis. On Feb. 27, a mine exploded under the vehicle of a family of four out for a picnic near the southwestern city of Shush. Everyone in the car suffered injuries, including a 4-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy.