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Iraq National Mine Action Day

H. Murphey McCloy, Senior Mine Action Advisor to the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA)
Baghdad, Iraq
September 11, 2007

Distinguished Representatives of the Government, Parliament, and Military of Iraq, Your Excellency Ambassador Marcie Ries of the United States Embassy Baghdad, Honored Guests from the International Community, and Friends of Iraq:

It is a great pleasure for me to participate with you in celebration of the First National Mine Action Awareness Day in Iraq, and I wish to thank you all for coming. This is an important occasion, because it provides a window to the world on the tremendous progress that has been made in Iraq since the summer of 2003 when a former Iraqi military officer offered his hand in friendship and his services to a U.S. Department of State official, pledging to do his best to help make Iraq a safer and better place to live.

I am aware of that progress because I was that State Department official, and Mr. Zahim Jihad Mutar, now the Director of the Iraqi Mine and Unexploded Ordnance Clearance Organization, IMCO, our host for today, was the man who stepped forward to make things better.

Under his leadership, IMCO has become the first and only operational Iraqi demining organization outside of the Kurdish Regional Government area to be trained and equipped to clear mines and other explosive remnants of war to international humanitarian mine action standards. IMCO has conducted widespread clearance operations that have brought humanitarian relief to farmers and other civilians in and around Baghdad; supported counterinsurgency efforts in the Tall A'far area; and contributed to reconstruction and economic development in Al Hillah and the Rumailah oilfields.

IMCO's demonstrated proficiency in executing clearance tasks has earned it the gratitude of those who have benefited from its hard and dangerous work, and the respect of their peers in the international demining field. With its dedicated leadership and superbly trained and equipped workforce, I am certain that the good work IMCO has done on behalf of the people of Iraq up until now will be surpassed by its accomplishments in the future.

Again, I thank you all for coming, and for your interest in a safe and secure future for Iraq.



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