Ukraine: DRC deminers save lives by clearing explosives on roads
On May 30, DRC deminers started clearing the road to Bilmachivka village in Chernihiv Oblast in the north of Ukraine. It is the shortest way to the village and also is an important route for local farmers.
Just few months ago, the battles were active here and hundreds of explosive remnants of war were left. Today, people are afraid to drive here. Only after the roads are cleared, can they start using this land again – for roads, farming, or just the usual walks in their neighbourhoods.
In one place, there is a blown-up tank in the area where the DRC deminers work — and five rockets' shells were found around it. Also, at the beginning of the road is a destroyed infantry fighting vehicle, that exploded on a landmine.
“The road is 4 kilometers long. Since the beginning of the clearing process, we have found more than 20 shells. Some of these shells were blown out of the tank that exploded. They are very dangerous and can explode any time because they went through the high temperature and are not stable”, says Leonid Alpatov, a DRC Demining Team Leader.
DRC works to create awareness of mine risks and safe behavior through multiple campaigns. These take place via sessions in schools, in public media and online, to inform children and adults about the risks related to explosives that are littered from previous conflicts and the current crisis. Experiences from similar conflicts in other parts of the world show that the clearing and destruction of mines and unexploded remnants of war can take decades and often last many years after a conflict has ended.
Another road to be cleared by DRC is between Pryputnie village in Chernihiv Oblast and the surrounding settlements. The battles took place here at the end of February. In April, a family in a car hit a landmine — the parents died and the children were seriously injured. After this tragedy, deminers were tasked with checking the area.
"We are checking the road for anti-vehicle landmines. The clearance will ensure the safe movement of people travelling from the village of Pryputnie to the surrounding hamlets," says Ivan Holovkin, a Demining Team Lead.
The DRC activities mentioned above are possible thanks to the financial support of the European Union, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs’ Crisis and Support Centre (CSC), the Finland Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA).