Since the start of the conflict in eastern Ukraine in 2014, the UN estimates that over 1.5 million people have been displaced from their homes and a further 0.8 million people continue to live in need of humanitarian assistance along the contact line.
The use of anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines, cluster munitions and improvised explosive devices during the conflict have taken a heavy toll, with at least 250 people killed and 470 injured by explosive remnants of war since mid-2014 according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. Since December 2015, there has been an average of over 50 casualties per month from mines and improvised devices, based on news reports.
In addition to the direct human toll, mines and other explosive remnants of war are slowing the recovery of areas which are now beyond the frontline, blocking access to fields for farmers, preventing the return of displaced families and obstructing the repair of damaged infrastructure.
The full scope of contamination in Ukraine is not yet known, and the conflict is ongoing, but it is likely that many years of work will be required to complete clearance.
In 2016, HALO Trust teams began demining work in government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions in coordination with the Ukrainian government and international organisations. During the course of the year this clearance capacity is set to expand as more local deminers are trained.
Survey teams are also conducting non-technical survey to identify and mark hazardous areas. When this process is completed it will provide a clearer picture of remaining contamination and assist in the planning and prioritisation of clearance.
HALO is grateful for the support of the United Kingdom, Norway, the European Union, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands so far in establishing operations in Ukraine. Over the coming year HALO will need to supplement its manual clearance capacity with mechanical support to assist in clearing areas contaminated with building rubble.
The HALO Trust registered in Ukraine in 2015 and is currently preparing to assist humanitarian demining efforts.