(Kyiv, 4 April 2018): On the occasion of the International Mine Action Awareness Day, the Government of Ukraine and representatives of international organizations call for the protection and safety of 2 million Ukrainian men, women and children in eastern Ukraine, who face constant insecurity due to contamination from landmines and explosive remnants of the armed conflict.
Today, large stretches of populated areas within the Donetska and Luhanska oblasts in eastern Ukraine, particularly hundreds of settlements along the 457-km “contact line” are contaminated with mines and explosive ordnance due to the armed conflict. Because of the heavy presence of mines and unexploded ordnance, millions of people risk their lives every day to access markets, schools, hospitals and farmlands. Landmines have also significantly curtailed people’s ability to move freely across the five checkpoints, where one millions crossings occur each month.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the International Mine Action Awareness Day in Kyiv, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Mr. Vasyl Bodnar said: “issue of landmine and explosive remnant contamination is critical in eastern Ukraine affecting thousands of civilians regularly. We thank the international organizations and donor countries for their continued support to the Government of Ukraine with demining and mine clearance efforts”.
Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Dr. Ingrid Macdonald and Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICE) in Ukraine, Ms. Giovanna Barberis warned of the alarming human toll caused by mines: “landmines, explosive remnants and unexploded ordnances have killed or injured over 1,600 civilians since the start of hostilities in eastern Ukraine in 2014. Over 2 million Ukrainians put their lives at risk every day to be able to carry out their daily activities. It is unacceptable that today, 220,000 children live, play and go to school in areas littered with landmines, unexploded ordnance and other deadly explosive remnants of the armed conflict.”
Landmines and explosive remnant contamination injure and kill innocent civilians for many years even after the conflicts end. The Government of Ukraine and the international organizations have cleared vast majority of lands in eastern Ukraine, and continue assisting the victims and increase mine-risk awareness measures. However, as the armed conflict rages unabated, robust support to scale-up mine-action activities is urgently needed. The speakers concluded calling for “protection of civilians and preventing use of landmines in civilian areas according to the international humanitarian law”.
For further information, please contact:
Valijon Ranoev, OCHA Ukraine: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +38 050 422-3943
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