Ukraine soldier warns against teddy bear bombs

2015-11-17 19:25
(iStock)

(iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Mariupol - "A bomb can be planted inside", a Ukrainian soldier warned students as he pointed to a stuffed animal at a high school in Mariupol, a strategic port city in Ukraine's war-scarred east.

School No 5 is located in the city's eastern district, about 10km west of the front line in a 19-month conflict between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian insurgents.

The neighbourhood is still full of unexploded landmines and booby traps, which have been the cause of most casualties since a tenuous ceasefire was adopted in September. It is the first lasting truce in a conflict that has killed more than 8 000 people and injured nearly 18 000.

Pro-Russian rebel leaders have repeatedly threatened to seize the southeastern city of 500 000, the only major metropolis in the region still under Kiev's control.

In January, the area was the stage of heavy shelling, killing more than 30 civilians and wounding more than 100 others.

One of the shells landed near School No.5 and injured a child.

But deadly threats in Mariupol are often more covert, concealed in the ground or in unexpected objects such as stuffed animals.

"Almost everyday civilians step on the landmines that can be really hard to identify," said the soldier who only gave his first name, Dmytro. "Even soldiers have trouble spotting them."

"Our goal is to teach children how to react", he said, adding that this included warning students against taking walks in the forest and touching objects that would have seemed harmless before the war.

The UN children's agency Unicef said in March that at least 42 children had been killed and 109 injured by landmines and unexploded ordnance in eastern Ukrainian since the war began.

Once opposed to military presence on its grounds, the administration of School No 5, which has 1 200 pupils, now regularly hosts Ukrainian soldiers to raise students' awareness about the dangers in their environment.

"This school is on the outskirts of the city, in the dangerous area," said teacher Anna Yermoshkina. "We are too close to the front line, that's why these lessons are very important."

Sixteen-year-old student Mykhailo, one of the school's 1 200 students, worried about the frequency of landmine explosions in the area.

"Tractor drivers hit mines here and there, this happens quite often," he said.

Indeed farmers, along with fighters and mine-clearers, are the main victims of the scattered landmines and booby traps, according to both Ukrainian authorities and the Moscow-backed rebels.

Read more on:    ukraine

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.