Switzerland strengthens humanitarian demining capacities in Ukraine

Press releases, 18.04.2024

On 17–18 April, representatives from more than 50 countries and organisations gathered at an international workshop in Kyiv to discuss measures for identifying and clearing mines and unexploded ordnance in Ukraine. Good coordination of national activities and international support is crucial to ensure that this work can progress swiftly and effectively. The workshop was co-organised by the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD). Switzerland, whose delegation at the conference was led by Ambassador Simon Geissbühler, has a long history of supporting humanitarian demining through the GICHD and other organisations. Clearing the country of mines is a key prerequisite for Ukraine's recovery.

156,000 square kilometres of Ukrainian territory are potentially contaminated by mines and other explosive ordnance. This equates to around a quarter of the country's territory, or almost four times the size of Switzerland. Where mines and unexploded ordnance are hidden or buried, or where there is even a risk that an area is contaminated by them, it is impossible to farm land and humanitarian aid is hampered. In wartime conditions, the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance makes people's everyday lives even more perilous. Humanitarian demining is therefore a prerequisite for greater security for the Ukrainian population and for the country's recovery.

During the workshop, Ukraine presented its strategy for humanitarian demining to be implemented over the next 10 years. The workshop on mine action held on 17–18 April 2024 in Kyiv focused on several key questions: how Ukraine's national humanitarian demining programme will be implemented over the next few years; how suspected contaminated areas can be inspected; how mines and explosive remnants of war can be surveyed and cleared; which innovative approaches, such as the use of drones, can assist in this process; which financing mechanisms can be used for humanitarian demining; and how international support must be coordinated to achieve the best possible impact.

"Switzerland is leading the way in terms of coordination. I was also able to see first-hand how the clearance of mines and explosive remnants of war has started. This is encouraging," says Ambassador Simon Geissbühler, head of the FDFA's Peace and Human Rights Division and head of the Swiss delegation in Kyiv. Prior to the workshop, Mr Geissbühler conducted a field visit to Chernihiv to personally assess the mine action being carried out there by the Fondation Suisse de Déminage. The Swiss-based organisation exemplifies Switzerland's expertise and tradition in the field of mine action.

Another example is the GICHD. In Ukraine, the GICHD supports the national authorities in expanding the national demining programme and advises them on strategic planning and the development of national standards. The GICHD also promotes the professionalisation of personnel by running courses for Ukrainian trainers. "The GICHD plays a crucial role in collaborating with the Ukrainian authorities to enhance the framework conditions, processes, and the exchange of information between national and international actors, thereby increasing demining capacities. Ultimately, this benefits the people living here," stresses Geissbühler.

Humanitarian demining in Ukraine is a top priority for Switzerland. At the end of September 2023, the Federal Council approved a package of CHF 100 million dedicated solely to mine action in Ukraine. The package will be made available from 2024 to 2027 and will be financed in equal parts by the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport and the FDFA. Switzerland will host the high-level Ukraine Mine Action Conference in Lausanne on 17–18 October 2024.

Address for enquiries:

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. Press service: +41 58 460 55 55
E-mail: kommunikation@eda.admin.ch
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs