The United Nations on Tuesday (4 April) said it will take up to 50 years to clear mines and other explosive devices that Isis planted in Iraq and Syria. It called for more funding from UN member nations to make the two war-torn nations habitable again.

The comments came amid ongoing intense fighting in both the Middle East nations between US-led coalition-backed local forces and the Islamist militants. West Mosul is the current battleground in Iraq, while Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are marching towards Raqqa.

Isis uses these hidden landmines and improvised explosive devices to prevent enemy forces from entering their areas or to slow their advances. However, Iraqi government forces and the SDF have succeeded in retaking a large part of Isis-controlled towns in their respective countries despite threats from the hidden explosives. Following liberation, the major challenge for aid agencies and local troops is to rid the cities and towns of hidden mines.

Addressing a news conference to mark International Mine Awareness Day on Tuesday, Agnes Marcaillou, director of the United Nations Mine Action Service, said that making Iraq and Syria safe will require a complex and sophisticated effort of "huge magnitude", but it can be done.

She noted that they estimate an annual cost of between $170m (£137m) to $180m to clean up the areas liberated from Isis in Iraq, with Mosul alone requiring close to $50m annually.

"The more funding there is available the more teams we will be able to hire, the more training we will be able to dispense to Iraqi forces and others.

"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 added, urging the international community to increase funding to enable the Iraqi and Syrian refugees spread across Europe to return and live safely in their own countries.

She also said that they are providing medical assistance to victims in the two countries who have been hurt by mines, IEDs and unexploded ordnance, according to the Associated Press.

Isis mines
Agnes Marcaillou, director of the United Nations Mine Action Service, said it will take up to 50 years to rid all Isis-liberated towns in Iraq and Syria of hidden mines and explosives - File photo Reuters