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Ukraine to accept European de-miner certificates, expand local training to accelerate rebuilding

Ukrainian de-mining machine in action. (Photo by Ministry of Defense of Ukraine)

Ukraine plans to recognize de-mining certificates issued by the European Commission for Mine Action (ECMA) and expand local training of de-miners to accelerate mine clearance and make way for reconstruction of the country, Ukrainian Deputy Economy Minister Ihor Bezkaravaynyi said.

Currently, only 2,500 deminers with 30 de-mining machines are working in Ukraine, but the Russian invasion has left over 174,000 square kms of land strewn with explosives. Meanwhile, the country has only one center for training de-miners, with a four-month course, Bezkaravaynyi said at a meeting with businesses, organized by the European Business Association (EBA). 

At current rates, it would take 757 years to clear Ukraine of land mines, according to a Washington Post article published in August.

Recognizing European de-mining certificates would allow de-mining teams from other European countries to help clear mines in Ukraine, speeding up the process, the deputy economy minister said, and the Ukrainian government is working to expand local training of de-miners.

The World Bank estimates that the full de-mining package will cost more than $37 billion, meaning Ukraine, one of the poorest countries in Europe, will need international help to clear the land so builders can start rebuilding housing and critical infrastructure. 

The EBA said the volume of explosives in just 40 settlements of the Kyiv region that suffered fighting last year would be enough to mine the road from Kyiv to Berlin. Some 30-50 percent of unexploded ordnance remains active, and a jolt could set it off.

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