Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

Two years after the Russian invasion, land mines plague one-third of Ukraine

By 37ci3 Feb20,2024



WASHINGTON – Two years after Russia invaded Ukraine, the country has become one of the most mined states on the planet. According to information, 11 out of 27 regions of Ukraine are full of mines Human Rights Watch. In total, about 30% of the territory of Ukraine is covered with landmines, which is the size of the state of Florida.

Hidden weapons hidden underfoot include powerful anti-vehicle mines capable of blowing up a tank or large bus, smaller anti-personnel mines designed to kill or maim anyone who sets them off, as well as improvised traps and unexploded ordnance.

According to aid groups, nearly 1,000 civilians have been killed by landmines since the war began in Ukraine. And most of these civilian casualties were caused by anti-vehicle mines placed in areas where Ukrainians were trying to return to their farms and rehabilitate.

Mines have been destroyed around the world approx 1600 peopleIn 2022, the vast majority of them are civilians. They occupy approximately 50 countries and threaten local populations for decades after conflicts end.

“Landmines affect every aspect of our lives as a country,” Anastasiya Radina, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, told NBC News in an interview.

“This is a big problem for farmers,” he added, “and it also affects civilians, literally children who go to the park or the forest, they can encounter mines in many areas of Ukraine.”

Russian forces in Ukraine have deployed a deadly new type of anti-personnel mine, known as the POM-3, designed to detonate when someone walks nearby using seismic sensors. The Russian innovation makes the weapon harder to locate and disarm, and harder to remove after a fight is over.

The POM-3, which is about the size of a soft drink can, is usually launched by a rocket before being parachuted to the ground, where it is embedded in the dirt with a small probe. When a seismic probe detects a person walking nearby, it sets off an explosive that explodes in the air and scatters metal fragments.

Landmines planted by Russian forces have prevented Ukrainian troops from attempting to liberate captured territories, kill soldiers, slow ground attacks, and disable armored vehicles. The Ukrainian army had to make very complex and time-consuming efforts to clear mines and create attack lanes for its armored units.

Ukrainian soldiers also used mines to push back Russian forces. Last year, the Ukrainian military repeatedly used rocket-propelled anti-personnel mines while attacking the Russian forces occupying the city of Izium. report From Human Rights Watch.

The Ukrainian government told Human Rights Watch that it will not be able to comment on the types of weapons it is using until the war ends and its sovereignty is restored.

Till today, 164 nations In 1997, they signed an international agreement called the Mine Ban Treaty, which banned the use of anti-personnel mines. Ukraine signed the agreement, but Russia, USA, China and about two dozen other nations do not.

95 billion dollars US aid package There is a provision currently being debated in Congress that would fund demining in Ukraine country. If passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, $100 million of that aid would go toward demining.

The HALO TrustThe humanitarian organization, which rose to prominence in the 1990s when it caught the attention of Princess Diana, is one of at least four non-profit groups working to clear mines in Ukraine.

HALO Trust CEO James Cowan, a retired British army officer, told NBC News that his staff is training 1,200 workers, 98% of whom are Ukrainian, to safely demine the country’s liberated cities.

Cowan said the HALO Trust has cleared 20,000 mines, including 8,500 anti-tank mines, since the start of the war. The United Nations Development Program finances about 80% of Ukraine’s demining operations with financial support from Western countries.

Women make up about half of HALO’s crew, Cowan said, in part because men between the ages of 18 and 60 must be drafted. “Women are very meticulous minesweepers, they are brave people,” Cowan said.

One of them is Olena Boryslavska, a 46-year-old former consultant. For 12 years before the war, Boryslavska helped various industries adopt new technologies, most recently agriculture.

“I could not stay in my comfort zone. It’s like I have an inner call,” he told NBC News in a phone interview.

Boryslavska applied after seeing many advertisements, including one in Sri Lanka showing women clearing land mines. “I thought it was safe enough if women all over the world did it,” she said.

Although the stakes are high, Boryslavska loves the job. “It’s obviously not the profession I dreamed of when I was a young girl,” she said. “But every minute of my work with HALO gives a result that I see and feel, every mine that I remove from a place that I know is a step towards a free Ukraine.”

Cowan, head of HALO, visited Washington last week to lobby members of Congress to support the Ukraine aid package.

“I actually think our job, which is to prevent someone from being blown up by a mine, is very bipartisan,” Cowan said. “Who wants a child to lose a leg from a mine?”

In 2018, members of Congress created the bipartisan Task Force on Unexploded Ordnance and Mine Clearance to promote the use of American tax dollars for demining efforts worldwide.

Now that Congress is debating whether to send more aid to Ukraine, some pro-Trump Republicans are arguing that economic aid, including funds for demining, is unnecessary. Other Trump supporters in Congress ruled out sending what they called a “blank check” to Ukraine, falsely claiming that much of the aid was lost to corruption.

Radina, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, rejects corruption charges and says the US needs more help. Ukrainian refugees who want to return home are hesitant to do so because of the continued threat of landmines.

“If there is no normal life, how are they expected to return to normal life?” he said.

Cowan worries that the United States could end military and economic support to Ukraine altogether. “I think the world is very prone to jump from one crisis to another and lose interest,” he said. “We have to be patient and persistent in our strategy.”

Untrained Ukrainian civilians are increasingly desperate to get their land back, Cowan said. “They want to plant crops. They want to go to school. They want to come to work,” he said. “But if you take matters into your own hands, you’ll be risking your life.”



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