24 February 2023
The conflict in Ukraine is affecting the lives of millions of people and continues to fuel a major humanitarian crisis. Since February 2022, the situation throughout the country deteriorated drastically. The conflict has killed and injured thousands, forced millions from their homes, and contaminated wide parts of the country with life-threatening landmines and other explosive ordnance, which are expected to take decades to clear.
Explosive ordnance contamination littered across cities, farmland, and seaways
Ukraine has been dealing with explosive ordnance contamination for years, a legacy from the soviet era and World War II. One year after the escalation of the conflict, the magnitude of the contamination has increased dramatically and is now massive. Anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines, cluster munitions, as well as other unexploded or abandoned ammunition are littered across cities, farmlands, and seaways, most highly concentrated in the Eastern and Southern parts of Ukraine. Beyond the immediate threat to the lives of civilians, these explosive devices are disrupting food production, transportation, and access to humanitarian aid, often where it is most needed.
The GICHD supports humanitarian demining in Ukraine, working together with the Ukrainian authorities, the United Nations, and NGOs.
Humanitarian demining efforts are already taking place, led by Ukrainian national authorities
To date, Ukrainian national authorities report that they have already located, recorded, and removed over 305,000 mines and explosive devices. Ukraine’s Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA), developed by the GICHD, is receiving new information daily on explosive ordnance identified, areas surveyed, and ongoing risk education activities. Data is collected from a variety of national and international sources, and it is then shared across key partners, from national authorities and United Nations agencies to mine action operators working on the ground.
In addition to supporting information gathering and recording, the GICHD provides advice and training for national authorities and NGOs in the country on key elements of mine action operations, including quality management and non-technical survey work. The Centre’s 2022 EO Guide for Ukraine, which outlines more than 100 types of mines and explosive ordnance found in Ukraine, is available in both English and Ukrainian. It serves as a practical reference for humanitarian teams working on the ground to identify items they find.
Bridging national mine action needs and international support
International funding in mine action activities in Ukraine is playing a major role since the escalation of the conflict last year. Coordination between the Ukrainian national authorities, funders, international organisations, and NGOs is more important than ever to address quickly evolving needs. In November 2022, the GICHD organised a three-day donor coordination workshop in Geneva, in collaboration with the Ukrainian national authorities, Germany and Switzerland. The event acted as an incubator for practical solutions, action points and next steps toward addressing these challenges in a cooperative manner and based on local needs.
Laying foundations for long-term support
“Effective support for mine action in Ukraine needs to be nationally-led, responsive to urgent needs, and forward thinking, so that systems in place now can eventually also respond to recovery and reconstruction needs,” explains GICHD’s Director, Stefano Toscano. “The GICHD has a comprehensive plan to support Ukrainian national mine action authorities to meet increased demands now and in the years to come.”
Looking ahead, the GICHD has identified key areas for its efforts in Ukraine over the next four years, including: enhancing capacity and national standards for safe, efficient, and effective demining operations; supporting information management and coordination that allows for evidence-based decision-making; and assessing explosive ordnance risk education needs to reach civilians living with the threat of explosive ordnance in their daily lives.
The GICHD reaffirms its commitment to working alongside national authorities and the international mine action community in Ukraine – taking urgent action to save lives today and setting the stage for reconstruction and sustainable development in the longer term.
The GICHD is grateful for the generous support of our donors and would like to recognise the contributions of the German Federal Foreign Office, the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, as well as the Governments of Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands, which make our work in Ukraine possible.
Pascal Rapillard, Head, External Relations, Policy and Cooperation Programmes
About the GICHD
The GICHD works towards reducing risk to communities caused by explosive ordnance, with a focus on landmines, cluster munitions and ammunition stockpiles.
As an internationally recognised Centre of expertise and knowledge, the GICHD helps national authorities, international and regional organisations, NGOs and commercial operators in around 40 affected states and territories to develop and professionalise mine action and ammunition management.
Through its work, the GICHD strives for relevant conventions to be implemented, national completion targets to be reached, for communities to be protected from explosive harm, for housing, land, and infrastructure to be returned to communities, in support of sustainable livelihoods, and for gender equality and inclusion to be achieved and women and girls to be empowered. This work saves lives, facilitates the safe return of displaced populations, and promotes peaceful and sustainable development. Learn more at www.gichd.org.