On Wednesday, 27 September, Kyiv hosted the first forum dedicated to humanitarian demining in Ukraine – the Demine Ukraine Forum. The event was attended by representatives of Ukrainian government agencies, embassies of donor countries, demining operators, domestic manufacturers of survey and demining equipment, representatives of the agricultural sector and other stakeholders.
The event was opened by the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal, First vice 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.
"Humanitarian demining is more than just the removal of mines or other explosive devices. It is about the opportunity for people to return to their homes and be safe. It is about economic recovery and restoring the country. Finally, 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 vice Prime Minister and Minister of Economy of Ukraine.
Currently, 174,000 square kilometres of land in Ukraine are potentially contaminated with explosive ordnance, including the temporarily occupied territories. According to preliminary estimates by the World Bank, the cost of exploring and cleaning up this area could be more than $37 billion. The fighting is still ongoing, so we cannot talk about final figures.
"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.
Among the key tasks, the First vice Prime Minister and Minister of Economy of Ukraine noted the launch of the humanitarian demining market, creation 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 will speed up and at the same time reduce the cost of clearing Ukrainian land. The State will encourage the development of the market by compensating farmers for part of the costs of purchasing demining services at open and transparent tenders. For this purpose, the Government has provided for UAH 2 billion in the draft state budget for 2024.
According to Yuliia Svyrydenko, compensation mechanisms will be developed jointly, in particular with representatives of the agricultural sector and demining operators, by the end of the year.
To ensure quick and efficient demining of the territories, the Government will also stimulate the development of innovative production facilities and expand the level of localization of existing demining equipment facilities. The development of the humanitarian demining market will contribute to additional investment in the development of such industries.
As discussed during the forum, about 40,000 square kilometers of land are currently available for operation in Ukraine. Despite the existing challenges, the Government's coordinated work and partnership with business and the international community allowed us to clear from explosive ordnance almost 19,000 kilometers of infrastructure and more than 12,000 households. The government plans to return to using 165 thousand hectares of agricultural land.
Demine Ukraine is a government Programme to clear the territory of Ukraine from explosive ordnance and mine contamination left as a result of Russian aggression.
The Demine Ukraine Forum is organised by the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine and Kyiv School of Economics. The Forum was held with the support of partners – Kyivstar and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Ukraine.