The first formal handover of land demined through international assistance in eastern Ukraine

Quality Management team of the Ministry of Defence’s Kamianets Padilskyi Demining Centre performing inspection Between 2016 and 2018, with financial support from Belgium, Czech Republic, European Union, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States, HALO teams completed demining of 11 areas in Stanychno-Luhanskyi and Bilovodskyi District in Luhansk Region.

On 08 August, The HALO Trust together with the Head of Luhansk Region and MOD’s Departments of Mine Action and Environmental Safety and the Civil-Military Cooperation unit carried out the first official handover of 11 cleared areas to the representatives of the local administrations at a symbolic ceremony in Stanytsia Luhanska.

Quality Management team of the Ministry of Defence’s Kamianets Padilskyi Demining Centre performing inspection

Between 2016 and 2018, with financial support from Belgium, Czech Republic, European Union, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States, HALO teams completed demining of 11 areas in Stanychno-Luhanskyi and Bilovodskyi District in Luhansk Region. The total area of land released is 66 hectares, which is roughly an equivalent to 92 football pitches. The newly established Quality Management team of the Ministry of Defence’s Kamianets Padilskyi Demining Centre conducted inspections of these areas to verify their compliance with both International and National Mine Action Standards. As a result, all 11 sites could be officially handed over back to local residents for productive use. HALO’s work will benefit almost 4,000 people, who live in the nearby settlements and will be able to safely use the released land.

Due to the conflict, people in eastern Ukraine do not just face the threat of injuries caused by landmines and other explosive items; they also lose access to their land, which could be used for agriculture, foraging, access, infrastructure or recreation. HALO’s work therefore not only contributes to greater safety through clearing the land but also restores livelihood opportunities by putting the land back to productive use. Land cleared offers an opportunity to make additional income, which can significantly improve the conditions within communities. Having the possibility to cultivate land or rent it out to larger agricultural companies can contribute to an improved socio-economic situation in the region.

The HALO Trust currently employs over 400 staff from eastern Ukraine and provides stable employment opportunities to people from mine-impacted settlements. HALO teams conduct survey, risk education and clearance activities across both regions in eastern Ukraine. Since the beginning of operations in 2016, HALO has identified, mapped and marked more than 200 hazardous areas with over 1,800 hectares of contaminated land, however the survey is still ongoing and this figure is expected to grow even further. Thanks to the generous support from the donors, HALO has so far cleared 411 hectares of previously contaminated land.

Case study

Four out of eleven areas handed over at the ceremony are located near the village of Shyrokyi. During the conflict, the village and its surroundings became important military positions and mines were laid to protect them. One of the cleared fields belongs to the farm “Ruvita” owned by Viktor Rusavskyi, a 43-year-old farmer who has lived there all his life. Victor and his five employees grow different kinds of grain, vegetables, and oilseed. Since the beginning of the conflict in 2014, his farm’s capacity reduced drastically. Viktor was afraid to cultivate the land since he is bearing a huge responsibility for his farm, for his workers and for his 11 years old son.

Your work helped us, of course. It is safer and more peaceful here now.” - Victor commented upon the completion of clearance on his field.

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Your work helped us, of course. It is safer and more peaceful here now.” - Victor commented upon the completion of clearance on his field.

Volodymyr Ivancha also comes from Shyrokyi. He became a HALO deminer in late 2017 but he also owns agricultural land near the village. With his wife and two sons they used to cultivate over 10 hectares of land. They grew fodder and gathered hay to feed their livestock. During the conflict Volodymyr’s family lost access to their property and they were barely surviving.

“We had to slaughter most of our cattle, because we couldn’t feed them anymore. Now I have a stable job, and I can finally feed my family,” – said Volodymyr.