Mine action in Ukraine: Road to Geneva 2024

As a consequence of Russia’s military aggression, Ukraine has become one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. Switzerland is using its expertise to support Ukraine’s response and contributes with CHF 100 million over four years to the efforts of demining civilian areas. Furthermore, in 2024, Switzerland will co-organise a series of events culminating in the Ukraine Mine Action Conference UMAC2024 on 17-18 October in Geneva.

Synthesis image with the symbols of the cities of Kyiv and Geneva.
In 2024, Switzerland will co-organise a series of events culminating in the Ukraine Mine Action Conference UMAC2024 on 17-18 October in Geneva. © FDFA

Since February 2022, Ukraine has become one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. Up to a third of its territory, an area corresponding to four times the size of Switzerland, is estimated to be contaminated by mines and other explosive ordnance. The situation is making it impossible for Ukraine – long known as the «breadbasket of Europe» – to fully resume agricultural production. Farmers ploughing their fields or children playing outside are all at risk of losing life and limb to mines or other explosive ordnance. Tragic accidents are all too frequent. The clearance of mine-contaminated land is a matter of the utmost urgency and a precondition for the country's recovery.

In keeping with its humanitarian tradition, Switzerland has cutting-edge expertise in mine action. It has supported humanitarian mine action efforts in the international community for over 25 years.

Find out more about the tradition and the principles of humanitarian mine action in Switzerland

 

The ongoing projects in the field of humanitarian demining in Ukraine

Switzerland is continuing its long-standing support for humanitarian mine action around the world. In line with the Action Plan on Mine Action 2023–2026, it focuses not only on implementation of the relevant conventions and support for the clearance of contaminated areas, but also on innovative approaches.

  • In 2022 and 2023, the FDFA contributed CHF 10 million to a humanitarian demining programme run by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), with FSD carrying out mine clearance and risk education, while farmers are economically and technically supported until their can resume cultivating their land. This project is considered as a model of integrated mine action by the Ukrainian authorities and Switzerland will continue contributing to it in the coming years, together with other international donors.
  • In 2023, the FDFA directly supported the work of the Fondation Suisse de déminage in Ukraine, particularly in the Kharkiv region with CHF 2.5 million over a 12-month period. In 2024, as part of the CHF 100 million package, the project will be scaled-up to CHF 10 million and expanded to the Kherson region. 
  • In June 2023, the DDPS presented the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SESU) with a remote-controlled demining machine from the Swiss Digger Foundation.
  • In the years 2023-2025, the FDFA and the DDPS support the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) Ukraine Country Programme with CHF 3,2 million. The GICHD assists Ukraine in developing its national mine action programme and provides guidance to the relevant authorities on its implementation.
  • In 2023-24, Switzerland co-finances a study by UNDP exploring approaches for innovative financing and ways to involve private investors.

Swiss expertise

The Swiss Confederation is using its know-how to support Ukraine in making its lands safe in an efficient and effective manner. For example, Switzerland is working with the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) and the Fondation suisse de déminage (FSD). Both organisations are based in Geneva and have been active in Ukraine for many years. GICHD provides Ukraine with training, strategic support and technical advice to strengthen the capacity of its government institutions. FSD has stepped up its engagement that started in 2015 in the Donbas region and is conducting surveys, clearance and explosive ordnance risk education in eastern regions of Ukraine, and extending its operations to the southern regions. The work of GICHD and FSD over the last 25 years has contributed to the status of International Geneva as a platform on humanitarian disarmament. These two organisations constitute an important aspect of Switzerland’s recognised expertise in the field of humanitarian demining.

Road to Geneva 2024

Furthermore, Switzerland is active on both, the technical and diplomatic level. After having co-hosted a first Donor coordination workshop in November 2022 in Geneva with the GICHD, it will organise a series of events culminating in the ministerial-level "Ukraine Mine Action Conference UMAC2024", taking place on 17-18 October 2024 in Geneva.

 

As a donor, Switzerland finances FSD and GICHD for mine action in Ukraine.

12 October 2023: Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis announces a CHF 100 million package over four years

On 29 September 2023, the Swiss Federal Council approved a CHF 100 million package to demine civilian areas in Ukraine and support the country's recovery. The funding is provided in equal shares by the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection, and Sport (DDPS) and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). Switzerland uses these funds to contribute in a targeted manner to the implementation of Ukraine’s national mine action programme. This package was officially announced by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis at the International Donors' Conference on humanitarian demining in Ukraine on 11-12 October 2023 in Zagreb, Croatia.

16 January 2024: the President of the Swiss Confederation Viola Amherd and Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis host a panel discussion on humanitarian demining in Ukraine

On the occasion of the "Geneva Day" held as part of the WEF on 16 January 2024, the Swiss Mission to the United Nations and the Peace and Human Rights Division of the FDFA organised an event on the theme of humanitarian demining.  In addition to the President of the Swiss Confederation Viola Amherd and Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, the First Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, Yuliia Svyrydenko, Philipp Hildebrand, Vice Chairman of BlackRock and Assistant Secretary Ramin Toloui of the US State Department also took part in the panel discussion.

Ukraine at heart of talks in Davos

Impressions from the panel discussion on January 16, 2024 in Davos

17-18 April 2024: Technical meeting to be held in Kyiv

Switzerland supports a technical meeting jointly organised by Ukraine and the GICHD.

17-18 October 2024: Ukraine Mine Action Conference in Geneva

Last update 01.02.2024

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