On 24 February 2022 Russia initiated a large-scale military operation in Ukraine targeting all major cities in the eastern, southern and central part of the country. The humanitarian impact of the ongoing conflict and the extensive use of explosive weapons in populated areas in Ukraine has been unparalleled in Europe since the Second World War. The war has displaced over 12 million people from their homes, including 7.1 million Internally Displaced People (IDPs) and between five and six million refugees currently recorded across Europe.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded 16,150 civilian casualties in the country. Since its early stages, the military invasion of Ukraine has been characterized by the widespread use of explosive weapons in populated areas, including reports of use of anti-personnel landmines, cluster munitions, aerial bombings. To date there has been no systematic, wide-scale assessment of explosive ordnance contamination and what humanitarian impact they pose, but initial information indicates that the size of contamination and its impact is massive.
NPA deployed to the country in early May 2022 with the aim of establishing a Mine Action and Disarmament (MAD) programme, seeking to alleviate civilians’ suffering from the effects of landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive ordnance. In August 2022, NPA obtained its legal registration and is undertaking all necessary administrative steps for the scale-up of the programme.
As of November 2022, NPA is undergoing the accreditation process with the National Mine Action Authority (NMAA) for obtaining the required permissions to start mine action activities in the country. NPA’s plans are focused on reducing the humanitarian impact of explosive ordnance and weapons through comprehensive mine action response, including Non-Technical Survey (NTS) and Technical Survey (TS), clearance, and Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) activities.
Furthermore, NPA’s strategic approach will focus on strengthening national capacity of mine action both at the planning and strategic level as well as at the operational efficiency level.
NPA’s initial intervention in conflict-affected Ukraine has taken the form of material and equipment support to the State Emergency Services of Ukraine (SESU) with the provision of much-needed Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) equipment, vehicles, personal protective equipment, medical supplies and communication equipment.
In parallel, NPA has been engaging with SESU in a capacity development project aimed at establishing a sustainable Mine Detection Dog (MDD) capacity within SESU. Since August 2022, NPA and the Ukrainian Deminers Association (UDA) have been implementing a project for the dissemination of lifesaving, context-specific EORE and Conflict Preparedness and Protection (CPP) messages to at-risk population in the conflict-affected Sumy, Kharkiv and Dnipro regions.