Mines and unexploded ordnance in Ukraine are a multi-billion dollar problem for the whole world

Мины и неразорвавшиеся боеприпасы в Украине – многомиллиардная проблема для всего мира

The Ukrainian territory, which is now contaminated with mines, used to provide food for 80 million people around the world. Mines and unexploded ordnance in Ukraine are a multi-billion dollar problem for the whole world Peace and Security

Even as the conflict in Ukraine appears less and less in global news headlines, its “terrifying consequences” will be felt around the world for years to come. This was stated by the UN Deputy Chief of Peacekeeping Operations and Chairman of the Inter-Agency Coordination Group on Mine Action Jean-Pierre Lacroix.

Global consequences of the conflict in Ukraine

In an interview with the UN News Service on the sidelines of the 27th International Meeting of UN Directors and Advisors on Mine Action in Geneva, Lacroix said the Ukrainian territory now contaminated by mines used to provide food for 80 million people worldwide, mostly in middle- and low-income countries.

Demining expert Paul Heslop said the economic impact of the war in Ukraine was estimated at billions of dollars. According to him, the contamination of Ukrainian land with mines leads to the fact that “fuel costs one or two cents per liter more” and “a loaf of bread costs 10 cents more than it should.” Multiplying that by the number of loaves or liters of fuel sold every day around the world equals billions of dollars, Heslop explained. Therefore, the economic consequences of mine and unexploded ordnance contamination in Ukraine is a multi-billion dollar problem for every country in the world.

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Heslop, who leads the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) mine clearance efforts in the country, also spoke about the injuries suffered by civilians in Ukraine.

“In Ukraine, due to the nature and intensity of the conflict, we often see amputations of two, three or even all four limbs, and many of the injured are between 20 and 30 years old.” , he said.

Mine danger in Gaza

“Now is the most dangerous period. Once people start returning to northern Gaza, that’s when most accidents will happen because they won’t know where the unexploded ordnance is,” said Charles Birch, head of the United Nations Mine Action Program (UNMAS) in Palestine. He stressed that it was important to provide the population of the enclave with the necessary information.

UNMAS estimates it will take about 14 years to clear Gaza of all the rubble left by the conflict, which Burch said totals about 37 million tons. This is more debris than in Ukraine, despite the fact that the Gaza Strip is much smaller than the Ukrainian territory where the fighting is taking place, he added. This is due, in particular, to the fact that the enclave is 87 percent urbanized – there is very dense development there.

Мины и неразорвавшиеся боеприпасы в Украине – многомиллиардная проблема для всего мира

An unexploded bomb in Khan Yunis, Gaza.

The rubble includes about 800,000 tons of asbestos and other hazardous substances, Burch said. “The problem is that there is more debris in Gaza than there is room to put it,” he continued.

“I spoke with a colleague who was in Ukraine, in the Ukrainian security forces, and he said that the bombing here was worse than anything he experienced in the Donbass.” , said Birch, describing the Israeli attacks. He said the priority remains a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, as well as expanding humanitarian efforts there once deminers and munitions experts deem it safe to do so.

Reconstruction efforts

On the issue of rebuilding Gaza after the fighting ends, Birch noted that recycling the rubble will play an important role in reconstruction.

He recalled that two weeks ago a workshop on “clearing up the rubble” was held in Jordan with the participation of UN agencies, including UNDP and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and other partners.

UNMAS will need $40 million over the next 18 months to begin the mine clearance preparation process. At the moment, the service has only $5 million to implement this operation, unprecedented in scale.


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