The long term danger in Ukraine
You risk your life when plowing the field, or when you want to visit your friends in the neighboring village. Your kids might find explosives when they are outside playing or on the way to school.

It seems like a cruel kind of imprisonment and insecurity, but it is the reality of civilians living in Donetsk and Lohansk Oblast in the eastern Ukraine.
Kramatorsk, the new 'capital' of Donetsk Oblast. People are walking the streets, new businesses are turning up in the citycentre and the population of the city has grown quickly since the conflict. Old Ladas are slowing down to avoid the biggest holes on the nearly destroyed roads in the city, sometimes bigger, newer and often white vehicles interrupt the usual stream of cars. It is The HALO Trust, OSCE, UNCHR and multiple other NGOs. The signs of war.

Drive one and a half hour south-east of Kramatorsk and you will suddenly be on the frontline of what most medias describe as the frozen conflict in eastern Ukraine. Many locals will not accept this description. They call it "the war". People are being killed and everyday there is shelling and gunfire along the 450-kilometer frontline to the non-government controlled area.
The war has been moving back and forward since its outburst in 2014, but since March 2016 the frontline has been more or less static. Even though gunfire and shelling is limited to the area close the line of contact, the rest of the land is still contaminated with explosive remnants of the war and landmines.

Landmines and unexploded remnants of war are dangerous to the civilians living in the areas affected. Since the registration of victims began, more than 2000 people have been injured or killed by landmines or ERWs – half of them civilians.

Some are farmers working in the field, trying to get by while the economy in the area has collapsed. Some are children, picking up and maybe playing with items they find. Some are just trying to live their daily life, but then get caught by a tripwire or a landmine.
A long term project
At the moment, The HALO Trust consists of 430 workers in Ukraine, hoping to reach 500 in the year of 2020. Most of them is employed for manual clearance, but the numbers is not nearly enough to eliminate the risk of casualties in a near future.

At the moment they have identified nearly 20 million squaremeters of contaminated land out of which 75 percent still require clearance. They are still trying to identify more areas, and since they do not have access to the non-government controlled area there is no assessment on how big the final task actually will end up being.

Currently they are detecting contaminated areas in a faster rate than their can clear. They expect the work to continue for several decades until the area is completely cleared of risks.
The work
The Halo Trust is the most mine-clearing NGO in the world. They conduct surveys to estimate the risk of infected land, they clear the land for explosives and they teach the civilians about mine risks. Currently they have 430 employees working in Ukraine, most of them locals who has lost their job because of the armed conflict.

Through interviews with locals and records of accidents Halos non-technical team do assessments of contaminated land. When they estimate a piece of land is likely to be contaminated with mines or other explosives, they hand the task to the mine clearance teams.
Lyuba Voloshyuk is reaching into the front pocket of the blue hard body amour. She reaches for a small towel to wipe off the sweat from her forehead. Her break is ten minutes, after working for fifty. Short intervals but well needed for her today.

She is excavating something in the ground with her small tools. Everything is at the moment pointing in the direction of an anti-vehicle landmine. The excavation is difficult and takes time. Everything has to be done the correct way to ensure the safety – otherwise the outcome can become fatale.

She is a part of a team working in the most concentrated areas of work for HALO. It is not more than a few kilometers from the contact line which daily creates background noise of gunfire and shelling. It is a part of working in that area, but for the most the gunfire and shelling happens at night.

In the middle of a flat open field with vegetation no higher than 1 meter small black spots are to detect all around. It is a combination of HALO workers clearing mines and small makeshift sheds made with sticks and plastic. The heating is a hole in the ground they can fill with wood and start a fire. The first-aid stations are situated numerous places in the field, marked with blue sticks and a green cross they contain an emergency stretcher and a first aid kit. In the small parking lot for the HALO staff there is always an emergency vehicle with a driver and every team of approximately 13 people has at least 1 medical staff.
The consequence
A 16-year-old boy was walking around in his neighborhood. He spotted something in a bush and went to pick it up. It is an unexploded grenade. He knew that it could be dangerous, but is convinced that it would not suddenly explode after have been lying in the bush - probably for 2 years. He puts it in his backpack and continues the walk around the small village.

When he gets home to his empty house he pick up the grenade from his backpack. Simply just holding the grenade in his left hand it suddenly goes off. Home alone there is no-one in the house to rescue him, but to his luck the neighbors where home. They came to the house, provided first-aid and called an ambulance.

The cost: His right eye and his left hand.

Alexander is know 18 years old and attends a collage in the city of Konstantinovka. He knows that people always will be curious about his visible injuries on his body, but he has accepted them and answers everyone asking him about it. He one of the more lucky victims of the explosive remnants after the war, and he has received legal help and prosthesis from different NGOs working with victims of the war.
Educating the civilians
Inside the buffer zone (15 kilometers or closer to the line of contact) the mine risk education team of The HALO Trust is walking around in a small village. The haze is constant and the cold is biting in the cheeks.

A three-man-army knocking on every door in the small village, trying to educate the civilians of the risk of the explosive remnants.
"It is often difficult with the younger men, because they are too proud to be lectured by someone like us," says Alexey.

Besides household visits the education team often visits schools or factories to lecture students or employees about the risks of explosives. The slideshows are adapted to the audience, since they educate everything from first grade at a public school to workers of an enrichment factory.
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