Olena Chyzn demonstrating demining drills at a public event

THE DEMINING HEROES OF UKRAINE

Many children and adults are killed or seriously injured by mines and unexploded ordnances in Ukraine. The TV channel ARTE has made a documentary about some of our deminers, who involved in mine Humanitarian mine action
 
 

THE DEMINING HEROES IN EAST UKRAINE

The German version https://www.arte.tv/de/videos/086138-055-A/re-beruf-minenraeumer/

The French version https://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/086138-055-A/arte-regards-le-grand-nettoyage-apres-la-guerre-en-ukraine/

At 8 a.m. every morning our deminers, get ready to go to work. It is not the typical job in the legal sector Olena Chyzh was once used to. This is a similar story for most of her colleagues. Together with 22 others, she works for DDG in East Ukraine. So far 13,000 lives have been lost in the Ukraine conflict. In the East Ukraine alone, about 2000 people were killed or seriously injured by mines or unexploded ordnances.

The black dots represent areas where people had accidents with mines

Every day on their way to work, the deminers pass check points. Once they arrive at the minefield, the head of the team holds a briefing. The land they are working on now was once used for farming. Olena starts humanitarian demining by examining meter by meter. She uses metal detectors to detect any metallic device buried under the land. She then clears the scrubs once it is verified that all is clear.

If there is anything detected, Olena marks the area. The deminers take a break every 50 minutes to help them clear their minds and so that they can focus more. They have been working in this area which is estimated to be as big as 130 soccer fields for the last two years now. DDG works in the Lyssytschansk area.

At the end of the day the deminers head back to their apartment where they get involved in different activities which are mostly to distract them from the dangerous work they do. Olena talks with her son who now lives with her mother. She explains to him that she does that kind of work so that he can be free to run around again.

MINE RISK EDUCATION

Just like Olena, Tatjana was a banker before the conflict in Ukraine. She left after her town was occupied. Right now, she has dedicated her life to educate the people about this invisible danger of landmines. What is even better, she works with the elementary school children where she educates them on how to detect weapon residues.

About 200,000 children in the East Ukraine are exposed to unexploded ordnances everyday. She also goes to one of the check points where people wait in line to cross and educates them on mine risks. She starts by serving them with a cup of tea/coffee and then briefs them on the presence of explosive remnants of war in area they all live in. Many of them have been impacted by war and are internally displaced people in Ukraine.

STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE

Oleksii is training officer. Before he started working in demining, he worked in a psychology center for victims affected by war. As a result of war, there was an influx of refugees in his town. This inspired him to make a difference in his country. He had no previous experience with mine action.

On this day, the deminers find a crate in the field. If the deminers find anything, they must inform Oleksii. He them comes and verifies. “It could be a trap. Maybe, there might be a mine or an explosive under the crate.” They take precautionary measures before doing anything about it. While the rest of the team waits about 50 meters away from the crate, Oleksii attaches a cable and pulls it to see what may happen. He does so from a distance. The rest of the team must lay low to minimize any danger to them.

The team is relieved when there is no explosion from the crate. However, they must wait at least 5 minutes before they can get up to have a closer look on what is in the crate. They find a grenade which are common in this area. The standard operating procedures are very important in this line of work to minimize any danger. After this intense activity, they take their lunch break to cool off the nerves. During his free time, he takes to physical exercise to help him refocus.

The weather patterns affect the demining activities in Ukraine. Due to the nature of the activities, the deminers cannot work in rainy or cold weather as it may affect their vision. For this reason, it is estimated that to clear all the landmines in the East Ukraine, it might take up to 40 years.