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Ukrainian army struggles to demine war-stricken Donbas region

FRANCE 24 | A member of Ukrainian army's demining brigade in the Donetsk region.

The Eastern Donbas region of Ukraine has become one of the most heavily mined in the world, according to the UN, as some 2,000 people have been killed or injured by landmines since war began. But demining is only possible in some areas.

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Every month, the Ukrainian army's demining brigade comes to a disused quarry to dispose of explosive materials found along the frontline. There are anti-tank mines, anti-personnel mines, IEDs, unused ammunition – only a tiny fraction of what's there.

“To fully clear the land along the frontline would take two or three decades, and in many places demining is not currently possible, due to shelling,” Major Marta Mizerina, Head of Demining Co-ordination from the Ukrainian Armed Forces, explained to FRANCE 24.

The Halo Trust is one of three international NGOs engaged in demining in Ukraine. In this area, right on the Russian border, which saw fierce fighting in 2014, the deminers use metal detectors to look for anti-tank mines underground. That is after they have checked the area for tripwires, using plastic rods.

Many of the deminers are local. But there's a lack of adequate information about where mines and unexploded ordnance may be found.

“I live on the same street as this kid, he found a shell, I don't know where, and took it home and he wanted to take it apart and it blew his fingers off," Aleksandr Velev, a Halo Trust deminer, told FRANCE 24.

To view the full FRANCE 24 report, click on the video player above.

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