Syrian civilians face landmine menace after ISIL

Syria is facing an unprecedented landmine crisis caused by departing ISIL insurgents, campaigners warned in a report released on Wednesday.

The explosives are killing and maiming hundreds of civilians, mostly children, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said, despite many areas having been liberated by security forces.

Published on International Mine Awareness Day, the report said displaced people returning to the Deir Ezzor, Hassakeh and Raqqa regions of Syria face mortal danger.

Numerous booby traps, landmines, ammunition and rockets have been rigged to explode in and around the homes of unsuspecting families.

"Many are not aware that there are a lot of risks waiting for them," Imad Aoun, MSF's field communication adviser for Iraq and Syria, told The National.

The explosives are suspected to have been planted by the insurgents or armed groups as they retreated.

"They are usually missiles that haven't exploded or booby traps set in place to harm people," Mr Aoun said. "Many people think it's safe to go back home but the minute they enter their homes …"

The problem is difficult to tackle as such devices are hard to detect, difficult to clear and often designed to maim, rather than kill.

Landmines are also hard to spot as they are usually buried under earth or rubble, a problem that has existed for decades in neighbouring Iraq.


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In north-east Syria, ISIL's former heartland, civilians are being wounded in many ways, including reports of detonations after bedroom doors have been opened in homes. The majority of those treated in MSF-affiliated hospitals have suffered landmine injuries in Deir Ezzor.

More than half of the patients treated are children, one just 12 months old

"Children are not always aware of what these mines and booby traps look like, they come in forms of cars or teddy bears," Mr Aoun said.

Last year, Deir Ezzor topped Syrian areas for migration, with more than 800,000 leaving, according to UN estimates.

Those left critically wounded face immense difficulties in obtaining medical and acute trauma care because of Syria's war-shattered state. With many roads damaged or blocked, it often takes hours to reach hospital, increasing the odds of death before treatment can be given.

Satoru Ida, MSF's head of mission in Syria, said people interviewed outlined a catalogue of risks.

"Landmines, booby traps and other improvised explosive devices are planted in fields, along roads, on the roofs of houses, and under staircases," he said. "Household items like teapots, pillows, cooking pots, toys, air-conditioning machines and refrigerators are also reportedly rigged to explode as people return home for the first time after months or years in displacement."

Iraq faces similar problems, stemming as far back as the war with neighbouring Iran between 1980 and 1988.

Years of work by international organisations had limited those dangers but ISIL has raised them again.

The threat is highest in areas that suffered significant destruction such as Mosul and the province of Anbar, west of Baghdad, where landmines are still posing a security threat to civilians and security forces.

With Iraqis returning home as more areas are liberated, unexploded ordnance lies hidden among the rubble, a separate report by the Mines Advisory Group said this year.

Four Iraqi servicemen were killed on Sunday in a landmine explosion in Anbar, security officials said.

Over the past few years, thousands of roadside bombs planted around the streets and buildings of Ramadi, 100 kilometres west of Baghdad, delayed the return of about half a million displaced residents since the Iraqi military, backed by US air strikes, recaptured the city in 2016.

The international action day on mines urges governments to develop better policies to tackle explosive ordnance.

A Mine Ban Treaty that became international law in 1999 currently has 162 state signatories.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for collective action to strengthen its reach. "I urge all governments to provide political and financial support to enable mine action work to continue, wherever it is needed. In our turbulent world, mine action is a concrete step towards peace."

Company profile:


Started: January 2018

Founder(s): Pishu Ganglani and Ricky Husaini

Based: Dubai

Sector: FinTech, micro finance

Initial investment: $1 million

12 restaurants opening at the hotel this month

Ariana’s Persian Kitchen
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Estiatorio Milos
House of Desserts
Jaleo by Jose Andres
La Mar
Ling Ling
Little Venice Cake Company
Malibu 90265
Nobu by the Beach
Resonance by Heston Blumenthal
The Royal Tearoom 

Race card

5pm: Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (Turf) 1,600m; 5.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,400m

6pm: Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,400m; 6.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,200m

7pm: Wathba Stallions Cup Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 2,200m

7.30pm: Handicap (TB) Dh100,000 (PA) 1,400m






Real Madrid 2

Vinicius Junior (71') Mariano (90+2')

Barcelona 0


Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

From Europe to the Middle East, economic success brings wealth - and lifestyle diseases

A rise in obesity figures and the need for more public spending is a familiar trend in the developing world as western lifestyles are adopted.

One in five deaths around the world is now caused by bad diet, with obesity the fastest growing global risk. A high body mass index is also the top cause of metabolic diseases relating to death and disability in Kuwait, Qatar and Oman – and second on the list in Bahrain.

In Britain, heart disease, lung cancer and Alzheimer’s remain among the leading causes of death, and people there are spending more time suffering from health problems.

The UK is expected to spend $421.4 billion on healthcare by 2040, up from $239.3 billion in 2014.

And development assistance for health is talking about the financial aid given to governments to support social, environmental development of developing countries.


Company name: Silkhaus

Started: 2021

Founders: Aahan Bhojani and Ashmin Varma

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Property technology

Funding: $7.75 million

Investors: Nuwa Capital, VentureSouq, Nordstar, Global Founders Capital, Yuj Ventures and Whiteboard Capital


Aston Villa 1 (Konsa 63')

Sheffield United 0

Red card: Jon Egan (Sheffield United)


'Nightmare Alley'

Director:Guillermo del Toro

Stars:Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara

Rating: 3/5


Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Publisher: Odd Meter
Console: PlayStation 5, PC and Xbox series X/S
Rating: 4/5

Long read
ICC Intercontinental Cup

UAE squad Rohan Mustafa (captain), Chirag Suri, Shaiman Anwar, Rameez Shahzad, Mohammed Usman, Adnan Mufti, Saqlain Haider, Ahmed Raza, Mohammed Naveed, Imran Haider, Qadeer Ahmed, Mohammed Boota, Amir Hayat, Ashfaq Ahmed

Fixtures Nov 29-Dec 2

UAE v Afghanistan, Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Hong Kong v Papua New Guinea, Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Ireland v Scotland, Dubai International Stadium

Namibia v Netherlands, ICC Academy, Dubai


Director:+Monika Mitchell

Starring:+Alyssa Milano, Sam Page, Colleen Wheeler

Rating: 3/5

The Afghan connection

The influx of talented young Afghan players to UAE cricket could have a big impact on the fortunes of both countries. Here are three Emirates-based players to watch out for.

Hassan Khan Eisakhil
Mohammed Nabi is still proving his worth at the top level but there is another reason he is raging against the idea of retirement. If the allrounder hangs on a little bit longer, he might be able to play in the same team as his son, Hassan Khan. The family live in Ajman and train in Sharjah.

Masood Gurbaz
The opening batter, who trains at Sharjah Cricket Academy, is another player who is a part of a famous family. His brother, Rahmanullah, was an IPL winner with Kolkata Knight Riders, and opens the batting with distinction for Afghanistan.

Omid Rahman
The fast bowler became a pioneer earlier this year when he became the first Afghan to represent the UAE. He showed great promise in doing so, too, playing a key role in the senior team’s qualification for the Asia Cup in Muscat recently.

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The alternatives

• Founded in 2014, Telr is a payment aggregator and gateway with an office in Silicon Oasis. It’s e-commerce entry plan costs Dh349 monthly (plus VAT). QR codes direct customers to an online payment page and merchants can generate payments through messaging apps.

• Business Bay’s Pallapay claims 40,000-plus active merchants who can invoice customers and receive payment by card. Fees range from 1.99 per cent plus Dh1 per transaction depending on payment method and location, such as online or via UAE mobile.

• Tap started in May 2013 in Kuwait, allowing Middle East businesses to bill, accept, receive and make payments online “easier, faster and smoother” via goSell and goCollect. It supports more than 10,000 merchants. Monthly fees range from US$65-100, plus card charges of 2.75-3.75 per cent and Dh1.2 per sale.

2checkout’s “all-in-one payment gateway and merchant account” accepts payments in 200-plus markets for 2.4-3.9 per cent, plus a Dh1.2-Dh1.8 currency conversion charge. The US provider processes online shop and mobile transactions and has 17,000-plus active digital commerce users.

• PayPal is probably the best-known online goods payment method - usually used for eBay purchases -  but can be used to receive funds, providing everyone’s signed up. Costs from 2.9 per cent plus Dh1.2 per transaction.


Director: Christopher Nolan

Stars: Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr, Florence Pugh, Matt Damon

Rating: 5/5


Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

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Engine: Electric

Transmission: 2-speed auto

Power: 571bhp

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