In a joint effort between the Estonian Centre for International Development (ESTDEV) and the Government of Flanders, seven complete sets of diving equipment have made their way to Ukraine, arriving earlier this week. With the help of this equipment, the city of Mykolaiv can begin to demine the waters along its coast.
Mykolaiv’s coast guard station was destroyed by a Russian missile attack last October, and along with it, diving equipment, boats, etc – everything that rescuers need to do their work.
“The diving equipment sent by Estonia and Flanders will enable a quick and efficient survey of the river and seabed so that demining can begin. This is particularly necessary in a city whose people are used to recreational activities in and near the water – we need to prevent accidents,” remarked Vitaliy Lukov, Deputy Mayor of Mykolaiv.
The coastline around the city of Mykolaiv extends over 100km, and it is currently littered with landmines, unexploded bombs, missile debris, and other dangerous military equipment. According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories, Mykolaiv Oblast is one of the most mined regions of the country.
“Underwater monitoring will have to happen regularly, because the current can bring explosives in from other territories. The Russians still control part of the Mykolaiv region, making the situation along the coast a dangerous one,” Lukov added.
ESTDEV and the Government of Flanders have supported the development of the Mariupol and Mykolaiv regions of Ukraine since 2019. Upon Russia’s unprovoked military aggression last year, priorities shifted to focus on humanitarian aid.
“Our cooperation with Flanders has been tireless. Since last year, our project activities have changed because the needs of our partners have changed in the whirlwind of this war. Sending dive equipment to the city of Mykolaiv is our first humanitarian action,” explained Anna Alen, Project Manager at ESTDEV.
Through its predecessor, the Estonian Center of Eastern Partnership, ESTDEV has a long history of cooperation with Ukrainian local governments. This has catalyzed Flanders’ partners to assist Ukraine in cooperation with Estonia. “Such tripartite projects contribute not only to mitigating war damage, but also to Ukraine’s preparation for joining the European Union and making all the necessary reforms,” explained Eva-Maria Liimets, Head of Strategy for ESTDEV’s Eastern Partnership Department.
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Estonian Centre for International Development is a government foundation that manages and implements Estonia’s participation in international development cooperation and humanitarian aid projects, with the aim of increasing Estonia’s contribution to global security and sustainable development.