Ukraine says allies commit $244 mln for humanitarian demining

Ukraine's allies have committed to allocate $244 million in addition to special equipment for the country's humanitarian demining needs, First Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Svyrydenko said on Tuesday.

"Our task is not only to demine the entire territory in order to save people's lives, but also to speed up this process," Svyrydenko, who is also economy minister, said in a statement on the government's website.

"This is a question of economic recovery, because the sooner we return potentially mined lands to circulation, the faster business will develop on them."

Russia left large areas of land filled with mines after it halted its initial full-scale invasion in Ukraine in the first half of last year and moved its forces to the east.

The US State Department estimated in early December that some 160,000 square kilometres (62,000 square miles) of Ukrainian land needed to be checked for explosives hazards. That is nearly half the size of Germany.

Humanitarian demining, according to the United Nations, refers to clearing "land so that civilians can return to their homes and their everyday routines without the threat of explosive hazards."

Svyrydenko said Ukraine would receive by the end of the year 10 demining machines from Croatia's DOK-ING engineering firm and another 10 from the Swiss-based Global Clearance Solutions.

International partners had also committed to hundreds of metal detectors and pyrotechnic machines, as well as individual demining kits and gear.

Japan, Canada, Korea, Switzerland, Lithuania, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme, and others were among the providers.