MAG has launched an emergency safety campaign to support Ukrainian communities at risk of landmines following the destruction of the Kakhova Dam.

MAG’s specialised digital risk education experts are using Facebook messaging to help keep people safe following the catastrophic flooding that inundated thousands of square miles round the Dnipro river.

There are fears that thousands of landmines could have been dislodged and swept away by the flooding and that communities will be at risk when they return to their homes as the flood waters recede.

Jon Cunliffe, MAG’s Ukraine Country Director, said: “Landmines displaced by the flooding will be an immediate danger to both residents and the relief workers, especially as the flood waters recede and people return to their homes.

“Our Facebook campaign will support people living in the Mykolaivska, Khersonska, Poltavska, Dnipropetrovska and Kirovogradska oblasts with graphics and messaging so they are equipped with the information they need to stay safe.

“The displaced mines could have become lodged in people’s homes or gardens and could be hidden under flood debris or buried in silt so it’s critical that people understand the risks.”

MAG pioneered the use of social media in landmine risk education in the Middle East. It has since rolled out its digital programme to nine countries in South East Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

The emergency campaign in Ukraine is being delivered with the support of the Ukrainian Deminers’ Association, Ukrainian Government and MAG donors the Swedish International Development Cooperation Association (SIDA) and US State Department’s Office for Weapons Removal and Abatement.

The campaign is scheduled to run for at least two weeks and aims to reach an audience of more than three million residents in the affected areas.

A wider, long-term digital risk education campaign is being developed to support some 25 million at-risk people in Ukraine. It will complement MAG’s face-to-face risk education sessions that are being delivered in the country.

Greg Crowther, MAG’s Director of programmes, said: “This campaign addresses the immediate short-term risk but the long-term consequences of the flooding will be significant also. It will make the job of finding and clearing the mines so much more difficult because they will have been swept along and deposited by the flood waters in a completely random manner.

“Some of them might be buried so deeply that detecting them in the future will be extremely challenging but they might still pose a danger if, for instance, they are unearthed during post-conflict reconstruction work.”