Thousands of women and children were killed in the early months of Ukraine Having fled due to the Russian invasion, Ilona decided to stay. She has some skills that are highly valued in her country. Ilona can safely clear mines.
Ilona sent her family abroad when she heard a Russian missile shot down in February. Despite her initial fears of staying behind, she told CBS News she decided she needed to "pull herself together and get to work."
Ilona, 27, started a mine clearance campaign in 2019. She took the dangerous job after seeing the work done in Kramatorsk by members of her HALO Trust, a humanitarian demining organization. When the current invasion began in her February, Ukrainian forces had already spent her five years simmering with Russian-backed separatists around cities in eastern Ukraine. was engaged in war.
Inspired by the opportunity to save her life, she quit her job as a dancer and joined HALO. Participated in the Trust's demining activities.
``It was like a scandal in my family. Explosion, that's my job," Ilona said. After she explained her job and safety measures, her parents supported her decision. The HALO Trust has asked CBS News to identify staff by name only.
"I really believe that because of this work, people will be able to return to Ukraine," Ilona told CBS News. "People will return to their homes and cities, they will be able to walk freely and live in safety. We will do everything for this purpose."
A senior U.S. State Department official said Russian forces had set up booby traps that would activate many casualties as they retreated. . From positions taken in the early stages of the invasion, including improvised explosive devices in food facilities, car trunks, washing machines, doorways, hospital beds, and even the bodies of those killed.
The Ukrainian government estimates that approximately 62,000 square miles of the country's territory may be contaminated with mines and other unexploded ordnance. This is an area slightly smaller than Wisconsin and accounts for her 10% of Ukraine's agricultural land, making it impossible to safely cultivate many fields in the country's eastern breadbasket.
The HALO Trust Communications Her manager, Olesia, said there has been an emphasis on clearing agricultural land to boost food production. A farmer told her that her two-thirds of her land had been contaminated and could no longer be cultivated.
"They were producing vegetables and fruits for the Kyiv region," she told her CBS News . "This is just one example of how difficult and dangerous this work can be. Tractor drivers can walk into these fields and be blown up."
As CBS News Senior Foreign Correspondent Charlie D'Agata reported this weekThe East Donbass region — facing risks from all angles. Some are wearing bulletproof vests, trying to bring in this season's crop.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced on his July 31st that Ukraine's normal crop would be cut due to the Russian invasion. He said it will be cut in half this year.
According to Chris Watley, Executive Director of The HALO Trust USA, about 60% of people killed or injured by landmines have been killed or injured since the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Kyiv area. It was the victim of an anti-tank mine. Anti-tank mines, also known as anti-tank mines, detonate at approximately 440 pounds of pressure.
Illona is trained as an armored excavator operator and is able to clear wrecked vehicles from her clearance site so that her teammates can search for anti-tank mines. increase. The dangers of her job don't seem to phase her. Speaking to her CBS Her News, she focused on the importance of serving her own country.
"Our women are as important as men." Brave and brave," she said.
"This is a complex task. It requires tremendous concentration," Whatley told her CBS News. “As long as you follow the protocol, we have protocols that are well defined and well mitigated, which is why we invest so much in employee training.”
Tuesday , the US State Department announced $89 million to help clear landmines in Ukraine. This will help fund her 100 demining teams across the country.
Ukraine's foreign ministry has accused the Russian military of deliberately hiding explosives in toys and shiny objects that could attract children's attention.US official said a family returning to their home in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha found a grenade hidden in the piano of their 10-year-old daughter.
"The horrific use of improvised explosive devices by the Russian military has led to the destruction of Iraq and Syria, where ISIS terrorists sought to inflict as many civilian casualties as possible and to scare people into returning home. It is reminiscent of ISIS tactics in the United States," said a US official.
She joined the HALO Trust in November 2021. Valeriia says, "She's not afraid, she's just proud." increase. Like Ilona, she said all the work the group does is aimed at making it possible for everyone to one day return home.
Demining operations in the Kyiv region alone will likely take her more than a decade, and the deadly legacy of mines will linger long after the war's final shot is fired. is certain.
Afghanistan still has Soviet anti-tank mines laid in the mid-1980s, and anti-personnel mines laid by the then Rhodesian regime in the 1970s are still in Zimbabwe. scattered throughout.
The Ukrainian government estimates that more than 5 million people in her country already live near unexploded mines and other explosives.
"While we are busy clearing areas around Kyiv, we also recognize that we will probably need another 2,000 staff to deal with the threat at Kherson." Russian Occupation by the army.
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