Kiev, (Asian independent) The Ukrainian cabinet has set up the National Authority for Mine Action, a special government body that will deal with the landmine problem in the eastern region of the country.
The new body, led by the Defence Minister, will coordinate the activities of various ministries, central and local authorities, and organisations involved in the work to clear landmines, Xinhua news agency reported.
The introduction of a national standard for mine action was set among the priority tasks of the new department.
The hostilities between government troops and pro-independence armed groups that have continued since 2014 have left about 16,000 square kilometres of land in the eastern region strewn with explosive remnants of war (ERW), making Ukraine the fifth most landmine-contaminated countries in the world.
According to the UN, over 1,190 mine/ERW casualties have been recorded in Ukraine since 2014.
In 2020 alone, 55 civilians were injured and 15 killed by mines or ERW.
These are, however, only the verified casualties, and the actual number is likely to be much higher.
Currently, around 2 million people are exposed to the threat of landmines and ERW in eastern Ukraine on both sides of the “contact line”.