MIL-OSI Europe: WEF 2024 Davos – Panel Discussion on Humanitarian Demining in Ukraine: Looking ahead

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Source: Switzerland – Federal Administration in English

Bern, 16.01.2024 – Address by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) – Check against delivery

Excellencies

Ladies and Gentlemen

I do not wish to repeat the outline of the challenges and progress so eloquently presented by First Deputy Prime Minister Yuliia Svyrydenko.

Let me just say this:

Mine action is not an end in itself – it is directly connected to the wider recovery and reconstruction agenda.

The speed and effectiveness with which we tackle this challenge provide direct answers to key questions:

–      When can farmers resume work on their land?

–      When can displaced civilians return?

–      When can children play outside safely?

Our common commitment must rise up to the enormity of the challenge.

Not only because we stand firmly with Ukraine, but also because the effects go far beyond.

The contamination of agricultural land in the breadbasket of Europe has severe repercussions on food security and commodity prices around the world.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

With the soon to be adopted National Mine Action Strategy, Ukraine will possess a clear guiding document for the next years.

Through the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (the GICHD), we were honoured to contribute to the strategy’s elaboration.

More importantly though, thanks to the 100 million Swiss francs pledged by Switzerland, we will actively support the implementation of the strategy and its objectives

Let me outline in a bit more detail how Switzerland will contribute to the strategy’s implementation.

A first result of our increased contribution is the expansion of the activities of the Fondation suisse de déminage (FSD).

Our contribution of 2.5 million Swiss francs in 2023 will increase to 10 million in 2024.

This will enable the FSD to recruit and train more deminers.

Staff will increase to nearly 200 and expand its operations that concentrated around Kharkiv Oblast to include Kherson Oblast as well.

The FSD will find and remove explosive ordnance.

Their teams will also conduct explosive ordnance risk education sessions for civilians living in affected areas and returnees, so that accidents can be prevented.

Guided by Ukraine’s National Mine Action Strategy, we will identify further areas where we can offer a clear added value.

What I can already give you today are two promises:

First, our contribution to support the implementation of the Ukrainian National Mine Action Strategy will be comprehensive. It will include not only clearance and risk education, but also victim assistance and support to innovative approaches, including those presented just now by Ms. Svyrydenko.

Through the GICHD, we will also continue to provide direct support to the Ukrainian authorities.

Secondly, we are in for the long haul. Demining in Ukraine is urgent, but it also must be sustainable.

This is why we have already committed now to a four-year package.

Thank you.

I would like to thank all participants of today’s panel for their important contributions.

A special thanks to Deputy Prime Minister Svyrydenko for bringing the Ukrainian perspective to Davos.

In humanitarian demining, Ukraine itself is doing most of the heavy lifting and it is under your leadership, Yulia, that the strategy will be implemented.

What we can and want to do, is support you in this process.

By organizing the first Ukraine Recovery Conference in 2022 in Lugano, Switzerland has shown that it is willing to take a leading role and responsibility in providing resources for the recovery and reconstruction in Ukraine.

The principles adopted in Lugano offer a useful blueprint to guide the efforts for mine action, including a multi-stakeholder engagement.

National and international actors, including from the private sector, civil society and academia also have a key role to play to tackle a task of this magnitude.

As the panelists have shown, the economic benefits of demining agricultural land are obvious.

We are convinced that the involvement of private funding and innovative financing approaches are therefore particularly interesting.

Humanitarian mine action in Ukraine is evolving, and ever more actors are contributing to it. We welcome this wholeheartedly.

In such an environment, however, strategic planning and coordination become even more important.

In this regard, we organized in November 2022 a Donor coordination workshop in Geneva and I am pleased to announce that the next such meeting will take place in Kyiv on April 17-18 2024.

This workshop will also serve as a preparatory meeting for a larger, ministerial Conference in Geneva.

The Ukraine Mine Action Conference will take place on October 17-18 2024.

We look forward to hosting you in autumn in Switzerland and to collaborating closely with all of you on the road to the Geneva Conference.

Let us together turn the vital commitments heard today into action – under the leadership of Ukraine and to the benefit of its people.


Address for enquiries

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. Press service: +41 58 460 55 55
E-mail: kommunikation@eda.admin.ch
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Publisher

Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
https://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/home.html

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