Strong support for Ukraine; Croatia to help with another €5m for mine clearance

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Croatia will provide another five million euros for mine clearance in Ukraine, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced at the International Donor Conference on Mine Action in this war-torn country, which opened in Zagreb on Wednesday.
"Tomorrow, the government will adopt a decision on an additional five million euros, which is Croatia's contribution as the host of the International Conference on Mine Action in Ukraine," Plenković said.
The PM recalled that Croatia had experience with mine clearance because "just like Ukraine, it was a victim of aggression" in the early 1990s. The mine clearance process in Croatia has been going on for decades, so Ukraine should also prepare for a long duration of this process, he added.
"Croatia will fully complete the demining process in the spring of 2026, 31 years later," Plenković emphasised.
In addition to financial resources, Croatia will use its experience to help Ukraine both in demining and in the prosecution of war crimes, the prime minister added.
Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović and Ukrainian Minister of Economy Yulia Svyrydenko signed the agreement on cooperation in mine action on Tuesday in order to mitigate socioeconomic, security, ecological and other consequences arising from the danger of explosive remnants of war.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal addressed the conference via video link, saying that Croatia, as a country that has recovered from the war, is an inspiration for Ukraine and gives it strength and confidence for the future.
Shmyhal said that today potentially 30 percent of the Ukrainian territory is contaminated by land mines, that is 174,000 square meters, which is three times the territory of Croatia.
Six million people are at risk from mines, 250 of them have been killed and 500 injured, he said.
The Ukrainian prime minister warned that experts predict that up to 10,000 people could be killed by land mines, and that the World Bank estimates that demining will cost more than $37 billion.
Ukraine currently has around 3,000 mine removal experts and 29 demining vehicles, he pointed out.
This is clearly not enough. If it remains as it is, it will take us decades to clear the country of mines, Shmyhal said, adding that countries and international organisations have donated around $300 million for this purpose.
For the demining process, Kyiv is looking for innovative technologies for remote inspection of the ground in order to rebuild the agricultural sector as soon as possible, and for as much demining equipment as possible.
European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said that the European Commission has provided more than €43 million to Ukraine in the last year and a half, and that the EU and its member states are helping Ukraine in demining with more than €110 million.
Božinović: Up to €500m pledged for Ukraine demining at int'l donor conference in Zagreb
Nearly half a billion euros has been pledged for Ukraine at the International Donor Conference on Mine Action in Zagreb on Wednesday, said the host, Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović.
The 34 participating countries "stated a clear political support to Ukraine in demining," he said at the end of the first day of the event, adding that the support is accompanied by "concrete promises."
"Those promises amount to nearly half a billion euros," Božinović said, adding that further donations in technical material and equipment have also been agreed.
During the conference, he said "current international efforts should be directed at renewing peace in Ukraine as soon as possible and creating the prerequisites for returning to normal life."
The conference drew representatives of EU member states, the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Azerbaijan, Norway, Switzerland, the World Food Programme, the UN Office for Project Services, the UN Development Programme, and the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining.
It's a tragedy that in the 21st century our children have to learn how not to be killed by a mine, Ukrainian Minister of Economy Yulia Svyrydenko said, thanking Croatia, which she said was a country with unique experience in demining, for initiating and organising this conference.
Demining will be the Ukrainian government's priority in the years ahead so that Ukrainians can return to mine-free ground, she said.
Ukrainian soldiers are conducting military demining while also fighting, the police are tasked with operational demining in areas outside the conflict, while humanitarian demining has not begun yet as it's necessary to clear all areas of mines, Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said via video link.
We need your support in the war and post-war periods, he added.
The most intensive mine action is taking place in Kherson, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and Donetsk, he said, adding that 1,000 demining experts were trained last year, 1,900 are active now and the plan is to raise their number to 2,800.
"As the host of this first international donor conference, Croatia has started actin at the European and international levels to support Ukraine in a demanding task that, judging by our experience, will last long," Božinović said, announcing that in October 2024, the conference will take place in Switzerland.
Text: Hina/MVEP

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