A Manchester-headquartered charity has received a two million dollar grant to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance in Ukraine and to deliver risk education to communities caught up in the conflict.
The funding has been awarded to MAG (Mines Advisory Group) by the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).
MAG, which employs some 5,800 people in 27 countries, had already been delivering risk education to Ukrainian communities at risk from landmines and unexploded ordnance. The new funding will enable it to significantly scale up its operations and begin clearance work.
About 27% of Ukraine’s territory will need to be cleared of mines and explosives, according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, in an operation that could take decades.
UMCOR’s grant to MAG will enable the organisation to:
A) Eestablish operations and a program structure that will facilitate long-term mine identification and removal activities in Ukraine. This will benefit communities, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees living in and/or returning to their homes.
B) Provide education to vulnerable populations, including women, men, girls and boys who are living in, or returning to, explosive ordnance contaminated areas in Kyiv Oblast, so they are aware of the risks from landmines and other deadly items. Explosive Ordinances Risk Education (EORE) training will be conducted in face-to-face sessions for 10,000 beneficiaries and via a digital campaign designed to reach 5,000,000 people.
C) Reduce risk threat through the use of site surveys and metrics analysis, explosive ordnance disposal and clearance operations so that 100% of landmines and explosive ordnance found are destroyed. Support the Ukrainian Deminers Association and efforts to develop Explosive Ordinances Risk Education (EORE) content and conduct a basic deminer course and Explosive Ordnance Disposal training for up to 20 candidates.
As part of the General Board of Global Ministries, the mission and humanitarian assistance agency of The United Methodist Church, UMCOR provides relief and recovery responses throughout the world. UMCOR is extensively engaged in providing aid and services for refugees and displaced people both inside Ukraine and beyond in the wake of the Russian invasion in late February 2022.
MAG is a long-time UMCOR partner and the two have worked together on past demining and explosive ordnance risk education projects in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. With a working knowledge of MAG’s provision of quality clearance and educational activities, UMCOR is now partnering with MAG to support the establishment of operations in Ukraine and all the administrative activities that go along with it.
“One of the tragedies of war is its impact on innocent civilians who played no part in the cause of the conflict,” said Roland Fernandes, general secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church, which includes the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).
“Mine clearance and education are critically needed in Ukraine due to extensive contamination and the trend of people returning from Western Ukraine and abroad who may not be aware of the precise location of where these weapons designed to kill or maim are located.”
Darren Cormack, chief executive of MAG, said: “I have been in Kyiv seeing first-hand the devastating effects of the conflict. The use of heavy artillery, landmines, and cluster munitions, both in rural and populated areas, has left a devastating and deadly legacy. Land that should be used for agriculture, or homes that should provide shelter for children to play and sleep, especially as we go into the hard Ukrainian winter, are too risky to be used.
“The challenges ahead are monumental and potentially growing as new territory is liberated in Kharkiv, a city and region that has undergone months of intense, bitter ground-fighting accompanied by a brutal artillery campaign.
“This UMCOR funding is of critical importance because it will enable us to scale up and accelerate our efforts to keep people safe, working in close co-operation with local partners.”
Ukraine has signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty that comprehensively prohibits all types of victim-activated explosive devices. Russia has not joined the treaty but is bound by the prohibitions and restrictions on mines, booby-traps and other devices under the United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons.