On Wednesday, 27 September, Kyiv hosted the first forum dedicated to humanitarian demining in Ukraine - Demine Ukraine Forum. The event was attended by representatives of Ukrainian government agencies, embassies of donor countries, mine action operators, domestic manufacturers of survey and demining equipment, representatives of the agricultural sector and other stakeholders.
During the opening of the event, the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy of Ukraine Yuliia Svyrydenko, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Ukraine Kuninori Matsuda, and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States to Ukraine Bridget Brink addressed the Forum's participants.
"Humanitarian demining is about more than just clearing mines and other explosive hazards. It is about enabling people to return to their homes and be safe. It is about economic recovery and rebuilding the country. Finally, it is about food security in the world. Mine clearance is the zero stage of our country's recovery and an important step towards returning full life to the de-occupied lands," said Yuliia Svyrydenko, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy of Ukraine.
At present, 174,000 square kilometres of land in Ukraine, including the temporarily occupied territories, are potentially contaminated with explosive ordnance. According to preliminary estimates by the World Bank, the cost of surveying and cleaning up this area could be over USD 37 billion. However, the fighting is still ongoing, so there are no final figures available.
"Unprecedented challenges require unprecedented solutions. If we follow the standard procedures that exist in the world, it will take decades or even centuries to clean up the territory," said Yuliia Svyrydenko.
The First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy of Ukraine noted that the key tasks included launching a humanitarian demining market, creating and scaling up the production of demining equipment and machines, attracting international support and promoting innovation in this area.
Speaking about the creation and launch of the demining market, Yuliia Svyrydenko stressed that this step would speed up and at the same time reduce the cost of clearing Ukrainian land. The state will stimulate the development of the market by compensating farmers for part of the costs of purchasing demining services at open and transparent auctions. For this purpose, the Government has allocated UAH 2 billion in the draft state budget for 2024.
According to Yuliia Svyrydenko, compensation mechanisms will be developed jointly with representatives of the agricultural sector and mine action operators by the end of the year.
The Government will also stimulate the development of innovative production facilities and expand the level of localisation of existing mine action equipment production to ensure quick and efficient demining. The development of the humanitarian demining market will help to attract additional investment in the development of such production facilities.
As discussed during the forum, about 40,000 square kilometres of land are currently available for work in Ukraine. Despite the existing challenges, the Government's coordinated work and partnership with business and the international community has enabled us to clear almost 19,000 kilometres of infrastructure and more than 12,000 households of explosive hazards. By the end of the year, the Government plans to return 165,000 hectares of agricultural land to use.
Demine Ukraine is a government programme to clear Ukraine's territory of explosive ordnance and mine contamination left behind by russian aggression.
The Demine Ukraine Forum is organised by the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine and the Kyiv School of Economics. The forum was supported by partners Kyivstar and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Ukraine.