Photo exhibit in Kyiv depicts the heroic efforts of deminers in conflict zones
04 April 2023
Powerful images portray the risks and rewards of one of the world’s most dangerous jobs
Kyiv, 4 April 2023 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with Ukraine's State Emergency Service, today launched a photo exhibition at the Golden Gate (Zoloti Vorota) metro station entitled "War Through the Eyes of Sappers of the State Emergency Service," marking the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. The exhibition, which was made possible with the generous support of the European Union and the governments of Japan, Croatia, Denmark, France, and the United Kingdom, sheds light on the experiences of sappers who are risking their lives to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance in Ukraine.
As a result of 13 months of war, Ukraine has one of the world's largest areas of mine and unexploded ordnance contamination within its borders, with over 14 million Ukrainians at risk and about 30 percent of Ukraine's territory potentially contaminated – about four times the size of Switzerland.
Speaking at the launch event for the exhibition, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Denise Brown said that “the UN is committed to reinforcing its own support to mine action in Ukraine, including through awareness-raising for communities and children, the provision of equipment, and through agricultural demining. Mines and other explosive remnants of war represent a continuous threat to every Ukrainian going about their daily life.”
UNDP Resident Representative Jaco Cilliers said it would take decades for Ukraine to be completely cleared of mines and other explosive remnants of war. "The estimated cost of reconstruction and recovery for Ukraine is a staggering US$411 billion. Of that, almost 10 percent, $37.6 billion, will be needed for demining," he said.
Thanking the governments of Canada, Croatia, Denmark, the EU, France, Japan, and the UK for their generous and ongoing support, Cilliers pointed out that the gap between contributions and the cost remains vast. "We urge the international community to sustain and scale up its support to Mine Action in Ukraine," he said. "This is a gargantuan challenge that requires a collaborative approach."
UNDP is the lead UN agency on mine action in Ukraine and is supporting the Government in managing the risks from explosive ordnance and debris removal, which includes providing specialist technical equipment and training to the State Emergency Services. The SES has cleared nearly 340,000 items of mine and unexploded ordnance since February 2022, spearheading emergency clearance efforts. National and international commercial companies and NGOs are also playing a crucial role in this effort.
Serhii Kruk, Head of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, said a significant proportion of Ukraine is contaminated with unexploded ordinance, posing a huge danger to the citizens. "Unexploded mines, specially set traps pose a huge danger to the civilian population," he said. "That is why one of the priority tasks of restoring the life of the country is clearing all the objects of explosive ordnance away from critical and energy infrastructure. We need to restore safe life in the de-occupied territories, which will enable the development of the economy in the regions and in Ukraine as a whole."
The exhibition will remain open to the public until 20 April.