Alexander Lobov, a military engineer and mine action expert with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), has worked in hotspots from Afghanistan to Somalia, but never imagined using this experience in his native country, Ukraine, now one of the world’s most heavily mined places since Russia’s full-scale invasion of February 2022.
A world without landmines is possible - and sooner than you think.
That’s the message from mine clearance experts helping to make communities safe with the UN Mine Action Service, or UNMAS.
In an interview with UN News’s Daniel Johnson, they explain that although contaminated land is being cleared in more than two dozen countries, this fulfils only a small part of their future development needs.
A veteran de-miner who has witnessed some of the worst damage explosives can inflict on civilians, says he has never seen anything like the situation in Mosul, the last stronghold of the extremist group ISIL in Iraq, which was finally liberated just over a year ago.
Paul Heslop of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) said that, although teams have cleared nearly 30,000 grenades, artillery shells, aircraft bombs, and other deadly devices, “we’re just starting to scratch the surface”.
On the day set aside to raise awareness about the threat of landmines, unexploded grenades and other munitions that impede the return to normal life after conflict, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is urging Governments to provide political and financial support to keep up the vital work of mine action wherever it is needed.