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UN Expert Says 40-50 Years Needed To Clear Syria, Iraq Of Mines, Weaponry

A Russian sapper clears up mines around Aleppo in February.

A United Nations expert says it will take 40-50 years and billions of dollars to clear the mines, improvised explosives, and other unexploded ordnance from the multiyear wars in Iraq and Syria.

Agnes Marcaillou, director of the UN Mine Action Service, said on April 4 that it will take "decades of work" for the two war-torn countries to look like post-World War II Europe.

Her comments at a news conference marking International Mine Awareness Day came the same day reports surfaced of a suspected chemical attack in Syria's Idlib Province that left at least 58 people dead.

Marcaillou estimated a cost of around $180 million a year to remove mines, weapons, and explosives in areas retaken from Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq, including $50 million a year in Mosul alone.

"The end-game is to empower the government of Iraq to take care of its own problem like the French and the Germans" and the British did after World War II, she said.

Marcaillou said it will take a sophisticated effort of a "huge magnitude" to make Syria safe again but that it can be accomplished if funding is made available.

Based on reporting by AP and The Arab News