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Russia has turned eastern Ukraine into a giant minefield

Russia has turned eastern Ukraine into a giant minefield

#Russia #turned #eastern #Ukraine #giant #minefield Welcome to InNewCL, here is the new story we have for you today:

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Life under mines, then, has a well-documented detrimental effect on a country’s mental health. Research shows that just knowing you’re in an explosives-contaminated area can leave you with mental scars — and in some cases, PTSD — even if you’ve never been injured by a mine or trap, or witnessed a trip . This shows up in surprising and heartbreaking ways at times. One study found, among other things, that the test scores of schoolchildren in mine-infested areas appeared to increase after those areas had been demined. The fear, the uncertainty, the lack of control – it seeps into everything.

Landmine blast survivors also often develop major depression, anxiety and PTSD, while also facing discrimination when looking for work. A landmine injury can destroy a family, disable a parent or leave a spouse in need of care. Physiological and psychological rehabilitation can help with recovery, but Ukraine is unlikely to have the capacity at this time to provide what is needed — it had set targets for providing such support after the 2014 invasion of Crimea, in which landmines were also used, but failed to achieve these goals prior to this year’s invasion.

How long the direct threat from mines will last is not yet clear – until Russia leaves Ukraine there will be no way to determine how many devices and traps there might be. Clearing them will then go a long way: Across Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, anti-personnel landmines continue to kill people long after conflicts have been nominally resolved. And as long as there are still mines in the ground in Ukraine, there will be a psychological weight on the civilian population. Even after they’re eliminated, the scarring effects of conditions like PTSD may never be resolved.

But while the war isn’t over, a small but growing number of Ukrainians are beginning to clear land. The HALO Trust, a global charity, is working to train people in Ukraine to safely find landmines, with this information then being shared with the Ukrainian military so the devices can be removed. Trained civilians are also informing others of the dangers now lurking in and around their communities.

“We have teachers, lawyers, hairdressers, barmaids – different people come from different backgrounds and we train them here,” says Olesia Fesenko, communications officer for the HALO Trust in Ukraine. “The only real requirements we have are motivation and good physical health because we work outdoors, in harsh environments, with people working on their knees most of the time.”

There are good days, Fesenko explains — for example, when new recruits discover their first mine and see it being hauled away for destruction. “Yes, they are very nervous,” she says. “But then it kind of motivates you because you’re like, ‘This is the result of my work and now it’s going to be destroyed and no one will be harmed.'” But then there’s the bad, too. It was the HALO Trust that first reported Luba’s story, and Fesenko’s face instantly scowls when she remembers it.

Teams from organizations like the HALO Trust will play a tremendous role in repairing the damage left behind by Russia – a task that will prove to be a pivotal endeavor in modern European history. Merely repairing the structural damage inflicted on Ukrainian homes, infrastructure and economy will be as essential to how history remembers this war as the catastrophic defeat Russia seems to be teetering on.

But even with the money, time and commitment, the psychological torture that is being deliberately and ruthlessly inflicted on so many people in Ukraine – be they victims like Luba or those fortunate enough to have direct contact with Russia vengeful legacy of land mines – many decades to come. “That’s the psychology you’re looking at: continuing the punishment,” says Hiznay. “It says, ‘You will remember us.'”

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