Video: Local hero clears mines despite loss of both legs
Over the past two decades, Hoshyar Ali has dedicated his life to eradicating landmines in his homeland. During his career, he has recovered and dismantled thousands of mines, but he has paid a heavy price for his efforts.
In two separate accidents, Ali suffered amputation as a result of a mine detonating during recovery. He lost one leg in 1989 and then the other leg in 1994. But this has not deterred him from what he considers to be a divine calling and an act of patriotism.
The exact number of landmines and unexploded ordnances in Iraq is unknown, but according to government estimates, more than 1,730 square km of land in Iraq is contaminated. This affects more than 1.6 million people in approximately 4,000 communities across the country.
The United Nations estimates that nearly a million Iraqi children are affected by the presence of landmines. The contamination has multiple sources: the Iraq–Iran war of the 1980s, internal conflicts between rival religious and political parties, the Gulf War in 1991 and the 2003 invasion by US-led coalition forces.
Ali is considered a local celebrity in his community and also dedicates his time to educating people about the danger of landmines. He is building a museum that displays the remains of thousands of mines he has recovered over the past 25 years.