VILNIUS - The Baltic and Polish interior ministers are calling on EU institutions to coordinate the provision of support for demining operations in Ukraine and to provide funding.
Initiated by the interior ministers of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland and sent by Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite, a joint letter calls on the European Commission to coordinate the provision of support for mine clearance in Ukraine and to assess the possibility of EU funding for this activity, the Lithuanian Interior Ministry said on Friday.
One of the proposed options is to use the ATLAS network of representatives of police tactical units from all 27 EU member states.
The letter is addressed to the European Commission and France, which is now holding the rotating EU presidency, as well as to the incoming Czech presidency. It calls for "early involvement in the process of saving lives in Ukraine" and for the coordination of the mobilization of mine clearance experts to work in the war-torn country.
The Ukrainian authorities estimate that around 50 percent of the country's territory (approximately 300,000 square kilometers) has been affected by military action, putting peaceful civilians returning to liberated areas at high risk from left mines, explosives and unexploded ammunition.
Explosives can be found everywhere, including fields, streets and private homes, and Russian soldiers have also hidden explosives in furniture and even in children's toys.