October 12, 2023 – Almost half a billion euros of aid was promised at the International Donor’s Conference on demining in Ukraine, held on Wednesday in Zagreb.
“Participating countries, 34 of them, have expressed clear political support for Ukraine in the aspect of demining,” said Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović at the final conference, stressing that this support is accompanied by concrete promises. He pointed out that additional donations of technical materials and equipment were also agreed upon, writes Glas Slavonije.
During the open discussion, he emphasized that “current international efforts should be aimed at restoring peace in Ukraine as soon as possible and creating preconditions for a return to normal life.”
The conference brought together representatives of the European Union, the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Azerbaijan, Norway, Switzerland, and organizations such as the World Food Program, the UN Office for Project Services, the UN Development Program, and the Geneva International Center for humanitarian demining. Prime Minister Andrej Plenković had announced that Croatia would help Ukraine with its own demining experience and with an additional five million euros.
First Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine and Minister of Economy Yuliya Sviridenko said, “it is a tragedy that our children in the 21st century have to learn how not to die from a landmine.” She thanked Croatia, a country with “unique experience in demining”, for initiating and organizing this conference. She stressed that for the Ukrainian government, demining will be “a top priority in the coming years” to enable the return of Ukrainians to mine-free land.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmihal, in a video address, said that maybe 30 percent of Ukrainian territory is covered in mines, that is, 174 thousand square meters, which is three times the size of the Croatian territory.
Six Million People at Risk
Six million people are at risk of mines, 250 of them have already died, and 500 have been injured, he said. He warned that experts forecast that up to ten thousand people could die and that the World Bank estimates that demining will cost more than 37 billion dollars. Ukrainian soldiers carry out military demining in parallel with the fighting, the police are in charge of operational demining in areas outside of the conflict, and humanitarian demining has not yet begun.
It is necessary to clear all areas of mines, Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klimenko said via a video call. “We need your support in the war and post-war period,” said the Ukrainian minister. Demining is most intense in Kherson, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, and Donetsk. Last year, 1,000 demining experts were trained, now 1,900 are working, and the plan is to increase that number to 2,800 as soon as possible, added Klimenko.
“As the host of this first International Donor’s Conference on Demining in Ukraine, Croatia has started activities at the European and international level to support Ukraine in a demanding task, which, judging by our experience, will be long-lasting,” said Božinović.