Too often lost amidst the headlines of a conflict are the people, communities, and livelihoods caught between the major players. In Ukraine, violence between central government forces and Donbas region separatists has had profound and tragic consequences for civilian populations. Landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERWs) contributed to nearly half of civilian casualties in 2018. In the blur of intra-state conflict, non-state combatants, and hybrid warfare, it perhaps comes as no surprise that the illegality of these weapons has not proved a sufficient deterrent of their use. The Ukraine Commission on Landmine and other Explosives: Alert, Notify, Educate, Remove (UCLEANER) is in part driven by the view that a project with narrow but well-defined objectives can have a significant effect on the conflict as a whole. By leveraging the expertise of NGOs operating in the conflict area, UCLEANER hopes to not only reduce casualties, but to build trust with affected communities, allow displaced persons to return home, and rebuild local economies. In doing so, the project will work to bring the principles agreed upon in Minsk II closer to fruition.
In order to make the most efficient use of available resources, UCLEANER targets specific locations and economic sectors for its decontamination operations. Additional weight is attributed to more densely populated areas, as well as to the primary economic sectors in the Donbas: the industrial and agricultural sectors.
UCLEANER will begin its preliminary phase in May 2019, transition into the operational phase one year out, and come to a close in May 2023. The budget for the project amounts to CAD 20 million, the bulk of which will be distributed in the operational phase. During the preliminary phase, CAD 2 million will be allocated for the following: the establishment of a nexus between all relevant stakeholders, outreach to affected communities, and information gathering to determine the areas that are most in need of mine clearance. The operational phase will see the remaining CAD 20 million will be allocated to select Ukrainian localities for clearance and associated monitoring programs. The latter will be conducted by the Joint IDP Profiling Service (JIPS), and will gauge the impact of the project using data collected on internal displaced persons (IDPs) and changes to economic activity