Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, a huge quantity of explosives and weaponry has been used in the conflict, including landmines, cruise missiles, cluster munitions, and mortars.
Many explosives do not work as intended and remain a threat to civilians in areas where the fighting has stopped. HALO's experience in multiple conflicts is that the greatest danger for civilians is when the fighting moves on and people are desperate to return to their homes.
HALO survey teams are already on the ground mapping landmines and explosives in areas where Russia's forces have pulled out north of Kyiv. But before we started survey were were already monitoring the impact of explosives from the conflict on civilians.
HALO’s open-source monitoring
Since the Russian annexation of Crimea and parts of the Donbas in 2014, we have tracked civilian accidents involving explosive ordnance and since February, we have tracked accidents across the entirety of Ukraine.
By monitoring open-source media, including local news outlets and social media, we’ve already identified 25 cases of civilians injured or killed by explosives – primarily in areas previously occupied by Russian forces.
Andro Mathewson, HALO Ukraine
The majority of the accidents we traced so far were caused by anti-tank mines while conducting agricultural work, such as farming or forestry. A significant number were caused by walking in contaminated areas and inadvertently initiating improvised devices such as grenades rigged on tripwires. Other accidents are caused by individuals handling explosives, often by well-intentioned people attempting to remove them or children unaware of the danger they present.
To ensure the population are aware of the dangers of unexploded ordnance and to know what to do if they find any suspicious items, we are currently conducting risk education across the country.
In due course, a combination of survey and national databases will provide more accurate data on the number of injuries sustained from explosive ordnance, but as the conflict continues and the frontlines shift it is increasingly important to continue our work to protect lives and restore the livelihoods of those affected by the conflict.