Ukraine’s emergency services announced last week that 300,000 square kilometers needed to be mined, roughly half the size of Ukraine and the size of the US state of Arizona or Italy, which would likely take several years.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to the spread of a large amount of war remains, including bombs, mines and other explosive devices, countless of which threaten the lives of civilians on a daily basis and can last for years even if fighting.
In many cases, the victims of these explosive devices or unexploded mines are farmers, workers and other citizens who have no choice but to use mined roads and plow fields sown with explosive devices.
Today Ukraine is one of the European countries with the most mines.
Eastern Ukraine, which has been fighting several Russian-backed separatists since 2014, was considered one of the most polluted regions in the world before the Russian invasion on February 24, which doubled the risks.
“Despair drives people to risk their lives,” said Mary Cunningham, who leads a mine-clearing effort in Ukraine for the NGO Halo Trust.
“People want to farm the land, they expect to be able to deliver grain to the rest of the world,” Cunningham said. “They get pillows that can surprise everyone, but they have to.”
In May, the British charity Halo Trust received $4 million from the US government to develop the work in Ukraine.