Monday, June 21, 2021
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With fighting easing, landmines still haunt east Ukraine

It has been 10 months since Igor last visited his home in the eastern no man’s land of war-shattered Ukraine.

The seaside fishing town of Shyrokyne remains studded with landmines, a deadly legacy of the 19-month pro-Russian revolt in the EU’s backyard.

Both Ukrainian forces and separatist rebels have refused to take on the task of fully clearing the war zone of one of the most unpredictable and devastating hazards to residents’ lives.

“People want to return home to recover their belongings. My friend made it to his house but then hit a tripwire. His leg was blown off,” said Igor, a 56-year-old blue collar worker.

“The Ukrainian forces refuse to let us back in. They say the town is all mined,” he said, declining to give his last name because of security concerns.

The now-deserted town lies just 20 kilometres (12 miles) east of the flashpoint industrial port of Mariupol — a government-held target of repeated insurgent attacks.

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