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A mine action response to Ukraine

Страны
Украина
Источники
MAG
Дата публикации
Происхождение
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Greg Crowther, Director of Programmes, MAG - March 30, 2022

The war in Ukraine has seen the use of ground and aerial weapons on a scale not seen in Europe for decades, causing immense devastation and human suffering. And the legacy of the last four weeks alone, in the form of unexploded ordnance, landmines and cluster munitions, will take decades to address. It’s a legacy that will kill and injure civilians long after the conflict has ended.

This is not just a problem for the future, however, but is a challenge right now: explosive ordnance risks civilian lives, hampers efforts to deliver emergency humanitarian aid and prevents people fleeing to safety.

The scale and nature of the unfolding conflict, with bombardments of civilian as well as military infrastructure and the reported use of a wide range of weapons, including cluster munitions and anti-personnel landmines – reported just this week – highlights the immediate devastation. These indiscriminate weapons were already affecting Ukraine, and their presence poses immense challenges for the future mine action response.

At the time of writing, the immediate priority for the mine action sector must be to prevent casualties from explosive ordnance as civilians flee to safe areas and to help enable the safe delivery of humanitarian relief. In other words, any response should focus on where contamination is exacerbating critical humanitarian need.

A mine action response is needed urgently but it cannot be delivered in isolation. What is required is co-ordination with and co-ownership by national actors (including armed forces, where necessary), UN agencies and other humanitarian organisations, including local civil society groups, as well as those mine action operators which have the experience and expertise to respond on the ground.

The risks of a lack of co-ordination or unilateral decision-making are all too apparent. At best, money is wasted and resources are not properly prioritised. At worse, funding is misused, effort is duplicated and operations are carried out unsafely or are poorly prioritised.

The Sphere Core Humanitarian Standards that explicitly enshrine complementarity, co-ordination, effectiveness and timeliness are worth restating at times like these, when the understandable urge to act quickly, and emotionally, might lead to poor decision-making.

If co-ordination is one cornerstone of emergency response, the other must be preparedness: an international donor community that can quickly mobilise funding to address urgent needs.

The war in Ukraine has seen the use of ground and aerial weapons on a scale not seen in Europe for decades, causing immense devastation and human suffering. And the legacy of the last four weeks alone, in the form of unexploded ordnance, landmines and cluster munitions, will take decades to address. It’s a legacy that will kill and injure civilians long after the conflict has ended.

This is not just a problem for the future, however, but is a challenge right now: explosive ordnance risks civilian lives, hampers efforts to deliver emergency humanitarian aid and prevents people fleeing to safety.

The scale and nature of the unfolding conflict, with bombardments of civilian as well as military infrastructure and the reported use of a wide range of weapons, including cluster munitions and anti-personnel landmines – reported just this week – highlights the immediate devastation. These indiscriminate weapons were already affecting Ukraine, and their presence poses immense challenges for the future mine action response.

At the time of writing, the immediate priority for the mine action sector must be to prevent casualties from explosive ordnance as civilians flee to safe areas and to help enable the safe delivery of humanitarian relief. In other words, any response should focus on where contamination is exacerbating critical humanitarian need.

A mine action response is needed urgently but it cannot be delivered in isolation. What is required is co-ordination with and co-ownership by national actors (including armed forces, where necessary), UN agencies and other humanitarian organisations, including local civil society groups, as well as those mine action operators which have the experience and expertise to respond on the ground.

The risks of a lack of co-ordination or unilateral decision-making are all too apparent. At best, money is wasted and resources are not properly prioritised. At worse, funding is misused, effort is duplicated and operations are carried out unsafely or are poorly prioritised.

The Sphere Core Humanitarian Standards that explicitly enshrine complementarity, co-ordination, effectiveness and timeliness are worth restating at times like these, when the understandable urge to act quickly, and emotionally, might lead to poor decision-making.

If co-ordination is one cornerstone of emergency response, the other must be preparedness: an international donor community that can quickly mobilise funding to address urgent needs.