Clearing landmines in Ukraine, one careful step at a time

Ukraine is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world, limiting freedom of movement and posing a serious threat to civilians crossing the contact line.

Sheltering in the basement of his family home in eastern Ukraine, Volodymyr Zayika, 71, was in the dark. Shelling had severed the electricity supply. Venturing out to check on some electrical wires, he felt his foot snag on a wire.

“There was a flash,” he recalls. “Something hissed on my right. Then there was a blast.”

Volodymyr came to on the ground, lying in a cloud of smoke and covered in blood. Later, he learned he had stepped on a trip wire and received wounds to his head, groin and chest, as well his leg and shoulder. Two local men put him on a vegetable cart and pulled him to the nearest checkpoint, where he was driven to hospital in Toretsk.

“The X-ray showed he had 31 wounds,” says his wife Valentyna, a former elementary school teacher near the town of Pivdenne, also 71. Nobody would drive her to the hospital during the fighting, so she packed spare clothes in a plastic bag and walked to see her husband.

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Source: UNHCR