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Donors pledge €500 million to help de-mine Ukraine at Zagreb conference

Ukraine Economy Minister Yulia Svyridenko during her speech at the First International Donor Conference on Humanitarian Demining of Ukraine in Zagreb. (Photo by Ukrainian government)

Some 34 countries pledged a combined €500 million to help de-mine Ukraine, led by a 100-million-euro donation from Switzerland, at a donors' conference in Zagreb, Croatia.

Pledges made at the conference also included €20 million from Norway, €12.5 million from Sweden, €5 million from Croatia, €2 million from Austria and €1.5 million euros each from Spain and Slovenia, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said.

Shmyhal didn't offer a complete list of the donations and it's not clear if the total includes the $89 million pledged by the US State Department last year, as well as assistance from the European Union and international institutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction (EBRD) and Development and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The two-day conference, which gathered foreign affairs and defense ministers, ambassadors and other officials from more than 40 countries, also drew commitments of technical support from countries such as Croatia, which has a history of de-mining on its own territory after the Western Balkan conflicts of the 1990s.

"The funds will be used to purchase survey equipment, demining equipment, and sapper equipment. In addition, additional assistance will be provided in the shape of equipment and expert support," Shmyhal said.

Ukrainian Minister of Economy Yulia Svyridenko told the conference that the area to be de-mined covers 174,000 square kilometers, or a third of Ukraine. The mines, she said, pose a risk to 6 million people and have already killed 500 people and injured more than 1,000.

The World Bank estimated in March that de-mining Ukraine will cost $37.6 billion, including $10 billion in various surveys and more than $27 billion in actual mine clearance, and take 10 years.

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