Shafaq News/ Ukraine is grappling with a severe landmine crisis across its territory due to the Russian invasion that began 18 months ago.
Mines are scattered over vast areas, posing a significant threat to civilians and the recovery process. A report by "Newsweek" magazine highlighted the gravity of the situation, citing experts who compare it to post-conflict scenarios in Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Croatia, describing it as possibly the worst situation since World War II.
The Ukrainian government revealed that up to 170,000 square kilometers of land are contaminated with mines and unexploded ordnance. As Ukrainian forces advance to reclaim territories occupied by Russia, Kyiv faces the monumental task of demining the affected areas. This nationwide effort is projected to cost nearly $40 billion and extend over a decade.
Kyiv has set an ambitious goal to demine 80% of the affected regions within ten years. However, experts, including Mike Newton from the demining organization HALO Trust, caution that the scale of the challenge may lead to a much longer timeline for complete clearance.
Anatoly Polkovnikov, a Ukrainian volunteer and the head of the Ukrainian Center for International Partnership NGO, suggests that the government may require approximately 35 years to fully address the mine contamination issue. Experts estimate that over a million dangerous objects may be in affected areas.
The laying of mines by Russian forces in southern and eastern Ukraine is believed to be a calculated effort to destabilize the country, hinder economic recovery, and instill fear among the population. This deliberate strategy has led to the displacement of residents from cities like Kharkiv and Mykolaiv, making return difficult even after hostilities have ceased.
Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister, Yulia Svyrydenko, stated that allies had pledged $244 million and specialized equipment to support demining efforts. Aside from saving lives, expediting demining is essential for economic recovery, as safer territories would enable faster rehabilitation and reconstruction.
The landmine crisis underscores the long-lasting impact of conflict and the complex challenges nations face in post-war recovery. As Ukraine navigates the arduous process of mine clearance, international support, and coordinated efforts are vital to ensure its citizens' safety and restore stability.