Swiss expertise bolsters humanitarian demining efforts in Ukraine
Bern, 17.07.2023 - The Swiss Confederation is using Swiss expertise to support humanitarian demining in Ukraine. It supports the Ukrainian authorities' activities and contributes to the clearance of mines and unexploded ordnance through projects carried out by the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) and the Fondation suisse de déminage (FSD).
"Humanitarian mine action is key recovery and reconstruction in Ukraine. It is a precondition for humanitarian access, for the return of displaced persons, for social and economic recovery, for agricultural activities and for the reconstruction of destroyed infrastructure," stated Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis at the Ukraine Recovery Conference 2023 in London on 22 June. In the Action Plan on Mine Action for 2023–26, the FDFA and DDPS already envisaged expanding support for Ukraine in the coming years. With a supplementary credit approved by Parliament in the 2023 summer session will, the Confederation can implement additional humanitarian mine action measures.
A key element in Switzerland's assistance to Ukraine in addressing the devastating impact of mines and other remnants of war is channelled through the GICHD. The GICHD will assist Ukraine in developing its national mine action programme and provide guidance to the relevant authorities on its implementation. To this end, the GICHD is strengthening its presence in Kyiv. GICHD director Stefano Toscano elaborates: "Thanks to Switzerland's contribution, we can expand our activities in Ukraine and help ensure that demining efforts are planned, prioritised, and executed efficiently, effectively, and safely." The FDFA and, from 2024, the DDPS will allocate CHF 3.2 million to fund the GICHD's activities from 2023 to 2025.
The FDFA also supports the work of the Fondation suisse de déminage (FSD) in Ukraine, particularly in the Kharkiv region. Ambassador Simon Geissbühler, head of the FDFA's Peace and Human Rights Division (PHRD), notes: "With the support of the FDFA, FSD teams identify landmine-contaminated areas, inform the local population about the dangers and appropriate behaviour to ensure their own safety, and clear mines and unexploded munitions. Over 90% of FSD personnel are recruited directly on site and trained by the FSD." The PHRD, the SDC and the Principality of Liechtenstein are providing CHF 2.5 million in funding for the FSD's mine action activities over a 12-month period.
These two projects form part of Switzerland's broader support for Ukraine. For example, the SDC is contributing CHF 10 million to a UN humanitarian demining programme run by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), with the FSD also implementing this project. In 2023, Switzerland will provide at least CHF 15 million to Ukraine for humanitarian mine action.
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