STORY: Ukrainian civilians are being taught how to remove mines and unexploded ordnance from deserted battlefields.
As the war with Russia rages on, demining crews are being trained by the Danish Refugee Council, an NGO that was among the first international humanitarian aid organizations to establish a formal partnership with Ukraine's State Emergency Services.
In Ichnia, in the south west of Ukraine's Chernihiv region, deminers scour a dirt track with detectors, listening for any warning sounds that could indicate a possible find.
37-year-old Elena gave up her job as a fitness instructor to travel around the country clearing it of mines.
“I have received some training; we attend training sessions regularly. So there is no fear, you are aware of what you are doing and why. We aren’t afraid. If you follow the rules and safety protocols, everything will turn out alright.”
The team have already found 26 artillery shells around the dirt track, Elena told Reuters.
Farmers and local civilians are in particular danger from abandoned mines, says the demining crew's team leader Maxim Sereda.
“All farmers are actively sowing any territory they can use. They can’t use this road, so we made a decision to clean it out for farmers’ further use. This way they can feel safe while processing and gathering crops, which helps support Ukraine during the war.”
With the harvest season starting soon, many farmers ignore the risks to work in and travel through fields that were active battlegrounds mere weeks ago.