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KYIV, Ukraine, Feb. 16, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- After 12 months of war and mine laying have left the country with the biggest explosives problem of the 21st century, Ukraine urgently needs a "Marshall Plan Against Mine".
The HALO Trust, the global mine clearance charity operating in 30 countries and territories, including Ukraine, has analyzed open data and compared previous clearance work in Afghanistan, Cambodia and Mozambique to assess the magnitude of the effort that it requires making Ukraine a safe place.
The Ukrainian government estimates that about 40% of Ukraine - approximately 250,000 square kilometers - may need to search for and clear mines and explosives. This is equivalent to an area larger than that of the United Kingdom. In addition to anti-personnel and anti-tank mines, tens of thousands of artillery shells are fired every day, thousands of which fail to explode.
Open satellite images indicate that there are dangerous areas stretching for hundreds of kilometers in the east and south of the country. A single fortified line of mines stretches 90 km from the Russian border north to the city of Lisichansk to the east. Other images show multiple lines of Russian fortifications north of Melitopol zigzagging for 300 km. Similar fortifications were used on the Cambodian border, where a 700 km long mine belt was laid in the 1980s.
HALO Director General James Cowan said: "Clearing unexploded ordnance and land mines from Ukrainian territory is one of the biggest war-induced challenges in recent history. Lessons from previous conflicts tell us that about one day of Combat results in a month of clearance But the scale of the bombing, the vastness of the territory and the deliberate targeting of major infrastructure mean that clearing the remnants of war in Ukraine will require unprecedented global funding and collaboration between public and private donors. and philanthropic. A final and coordinated "Marshall plan against mines" would be a clear call to action for the international community."
HALO is working throughout Ukraine in collaboration with the State Emergency Services (SES), the National Mine Action Authority and its Ministry of Defense.
"Ukrainian authorities and their State Emergency Services are carrying out an extraordinary response that has saved thousands of civilians. We are proud to work together with them to clear the ground, deliver safety messages to the civilian population, and share our machinery and logistics. This vital work will restore Ukrainian livelihoods, agriculture and infrastructure," said James Cowan.
HALO established its Ukraine program in Donbass in 2016 and moved its staff to Kiev province in April 2022 so they could carry out urgent mine clearance, community awareness workshops and rapid contamination surveys in areas that they had been occupied by Russian troops, such as Bucha and Irpin. In the months that followed, HALO expanded its workforce and established operations in the Chernigov, Kharkiv, Sumy, and Nicolaiev provinces. The Organization's goal is to have 1,200 Ukrainian employees nationwide by the end of 2023, as well as to establish a global research and development center for the complex post-war demining process.
Deminer Yulia Melnyk said: "I am proud that my work as a HALO deminer helps keep my citizens safe during this dark chapter of our history. But it has also been a lifeline for my family at a time when we have lost almost everything. On behalf of my Ukrainian colleagues, I want to thank the Government of the United States of America/Germany/Netherlands/United Kingdom/Norway/Canada for their support. But I invite the world not to look the other way while our country enters its second year of displacement and destruction."
The published data includes examples of HALO's work in the following countries:
- Afghanistan: The country was invaded and heavily mined by the Soviet Union in 1979. Since 2005, Afghanistan has received $1.2 billion for mine clearance.
- Cambodia's K5 mine belt, about 700 km long, was laid to prevent the Khmer Rouge from entering Thailand in the 1980s and contains about 3,000 mines per km. Total global funding for all of Cambodia between 2005-2020 was $449 million.
- Mozambique was declared mine-free in 2015 after HALO had worked there for more than 22 years. Total global funding for mine clearance amounted to more than $300 million and included clearance of major infrastructure such as the Cahora Bassa hydroelectric dam.
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To view B-Roll images of HALO in Ukraine, please visit the following link (password "HALOUKRAINE"): https://vimeo.com/thehalotrust/ukraine
For images (Credit ©Chris Strickland/HALO): https://halotrust.canto.global/b/OQJ54
Notes to editors:
1. See https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-largest-minefield-shmyhal/32214163.html for the latest pollution estimates from the Ukrainian authorities
2. The HALO Trust was founded in 1988 and employs more than 12,000 women and men clearing remnants of war from thirty conflict-affected countries and territories around the world.
3. HALO Ukrainian at-risk education teams have delivered 5,000 sessions to 80,000 people since February 2022 and at-risk education digital messages have reached 15 million Ukrainians on social media.
4. Donations from the governments of the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, Norway, the European Union, and various private donors have enabled HALO to raise $50 million for its operations in Ukraine since February 2022.
5. Brady Afrik, an open source satellite analyst, has identified hundreds of kilometers of Russian defensive fortifications in southern and eastern Ukraine.
6. Details of international financial assistance for mine clearance in Afghanistan and Cambodia are available on Landmine Monitor
7. See https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/17/last-known-landmine-mozambique-destroyed for details on Mozambique
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