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January 24, 2023

Strengthening Ukraine's capacity in Humanitarian Demining

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in collaboration with Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), has started a multi-component cooperation with the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SESU).

The first component - a pilot project within which Ukrainian deminers will receive a sophisticated equipment for humanitarian demining officially started in January. It's focused on providing SESU with 4 ALIS (advanced landmine imagining system) mine detectors, that are able not only to detect an explosive object buried under soil, but also show its shape. While the devices are prepared to be delivered to Ukraine, 8 operatives of SESU pyrotechnic departments from Kyiv, Kharkiv and Khmelnytsky have completed the practical training on ALIS mine detector use in Cambodia.

According to the SESU, about 30 percent of the territory of Ukraine is contaminated by explosive objects. Recently, Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine has said that SESU pyrotechnic units demine approximately 50 hectares of land daily, so there is a lot of work ahead. The explosives scattered in de-occupied regions of Ukraine include anti-tank mines, personnel mines, booby traps, unexploded ordnance and others. Mine contamination endangers safety of civilians and hinders economic recovery, as forests, water bodies and agriculture fields are mine contaminated and can't serve their purpose.

SESU pyrotechnic units have already built significant experience in mine clearance actions in Ukraine, yet obtaining new skills in operating a high tech mine detector ALIS was useful. Mr. Vladyslav Fedortsov, Deputy Director at the SESU Interregional Center for Humanitarian Demining and Emergency Response said that Ukrainian trainees are constantly improving their professional capacities and are ready to learn the best world practices in mine clearance. "We are very grateful for JICA and the Cambodian counterparts for the opportunity to learn the operation of ALIS device and we are very much looking forward to further cooperation", Mr. Fedortsov said.

Professor Motoyuki Sato from Tohoku University, the inventor of ALIS mine detector, also took part in the training hopes that Ukrainian pyrotechnics will find this device useful. ALIS is a dual sensor that combines functions of metal detector and ground penetration radar. It's easy to operate and it gives a clear image of a shape of the buried objects. "We have trained many Cambodian deminers for operation of ALIS on site. The training requires several days for fundamental operation", Dr. Sato said. "I hope ALIS will help Ukraine to speed up the mine clearance operation and bring de-occupied territories to their normal function" Prof. Sato said.

Cambodian Mine Action Centre provided facility for training and shared their best practices in operating the ALIS in mine clearance. Mr. Heng Ratana, Director General at CMAC says that over the last 30 years Cambodia in collaboration with international development partners was able to clear out large areas enabling resettling and agricultural activities on these lands. "Cambodia is taking a lead in terms of demining technologies and innovative demining methodologies while some countries in the world are challenging and exploring all means to cope with landmine and threats from explosive remnants of war", Mr. Ratana said.

The delivery of ALIS mine detectors combined with training has built a baseline for cooperation between JICA and SESU. The counterparts have worked closely for several months to formulate and concretize the cooperation projects, Mr. Nozomu Yamashita, Director of Office for Peacebuilding at JICA said. "Our determination to help SESU and the Ukrainian people goes beyond technical knowhows, but also is a strong demonstration of your support to Ukraine", Yamashita said. Overall, JICA in 2023 JICA is implementing multiple projects with SESU: pilot project on ALIS mine detectors delivery and training, and provision of trucks with cranes within the framework of technical cooperation project. Additional equipment package is also being prepared.

On JICA: The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is a governmental development organization, aiming to contribute to the promotion of international cooperation as well as the sound development of Japanese and global economy by supporting the socioeconomic development, recovery or economic stability of developing regions. In 2017 JICA established an Office in Kyiv, Ukraine, covering the operations for Ukraine and Moldova. Major sectors of JICA's cooperation in Ukraine are governance, economic development, environmental protection, infrastructure and Social Services.

On CMAC: The Cambodia Mine Action Center is leading demining organization, working in the key areas of Survey and Land Release, Mine and UXO Clearance, Mine and UXO Risk Education and Training, Research and Development. CMAC was established during the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) in 1992, in order to assist the safe return of thousands of refugees to their homelands across the country. Recognizing that the large number of landmines and UXO across Cambodia was a significant threat to post conflict reconstruction and continuing development, CMAC became an autonomous national organization in 2000 and developed a series of programs including landmine awareness, landmine field information, landmine and UXO clearance and training in landmine clearance to achieve the safe transition to peace and security for the people of Cambodia.

JICA and CMAC have been cooperating for more than 20 years. Joining force with Cambodian Mine Action Centre, having one of the best operational mine action capacity in the world, who have become the closest partner of Japan as a result of 20 years of cooperation, and now providing support to other mine and UXO contaminated countries, such as Columbia, Lao PDR, Iraq, and Angola.



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