NATO supports humanitarian demining in Ukraine
Explosive remnants of war pose a significant threat to local populations in eastern Ukraine, and the authorities are making a great effort to defuse them. To help counter this growing threat, on behalf of the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme and in close cooperation with the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, transferred valuable equipment to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SESU).
As a result of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, explosive remnants of war (ERW), such as landmines, artillery, munitions and booby traps, have been left behind in communities in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Based on an urgent request for assistance by Ukraine, a fact-fining mission was organised by the SPS Programme in close cooperation with the NSPA. The experts concluded that the immediate requirement was to replace the equipment lost by the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams of the SESU in eastern Ukraine.
In order to safeguard the civilian population and allow the return of displaced persons in the affected regions, the SPS Programme in 2015 initiated the project “Support to Humanitarian Demining in Ukraine” with a budget of approximately Euro 1 million. Through enhancing the capacity of the SESU in conducting demining operations in eastern Ukraine, a significant step will be taken in allowing more effective clearance and reducing the time needed to clear affected areas.
A high-level ceremony attended by Ambassador Sorin Ducaru and Mr Mykola Chechotkin, Head of the SESU, marked the successful hand-over of valuable demining equipment to the SESU.
Ambassador Ducaru stressed the importance of this project. “In response to the conflict in Ukraine, cooperation between the SPS Programme and Ukraine has been enhanced significantly. The project in support of humanitarian demining in Ukraine has brought about tangible results, positively benefitting local populations and helping Ukraine to cope with the results of the ongoing conflict,” he emphasised.
Responding to immediate threats
“As a result of the conflict in Ukraine, significant territories in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, around 7,000 square kilometres (700,000 hectares), have been contaminated with explosive items and require humanitarian demining from mines and shells,” Mr Chechotkin explained. “The NATO SPS project will significantly improve the safety of deminers while performing the works on humanitarian demining,” he continued.
This SPS flagship project will train and equip the teams with modern technologies of detection and clearance as well as associated specialist training so that the SESU can cope with the challenges stemming from a high-threat environment.
“The goal is to provide four SESU EOD teams with an operational capability and mobility,” explains Dr Eyup Turmus, SPS Advisor. “We are providing the SESU with equipment such as dual sensor mine detectors, deep search and bomb locators as well as individual personal protection equipment and EOD suits,” he elaborated.
In order to familiarise the SESU EOD teams with the new equipment, additional equipment-specific operator training courses will be conducted. Twenty-two EOD personnel will also receive reconnaissance training, which includes the investigation, detection and reporting of explosive ordnance for effective clearance in a short period of time.