The Guernsey based charity ‘Friends of Ukraine EOD’ has arranged for an all-female contingent of Ukrainian emergency services personnel to be the first group to receive training from MAT Kosovo for specialist training in explosive ordnance disposal and survey training.
The group travelled from across the Ukraine via Poland to Kosovo over the weekend, ready for their training that started on Monday 25th of April at the MAT Kosovo facility, Based in Peja. This is the first training of its type to be held outside of Ukraine since the Russian invasion. The course will run over three weeks, until 13th of May 2022.
Eight women from across Ukraine were selected and are now undergoing intensive training, which will enable them to assist agencies in mapping out the extent of unexploded ordnance hazards in areas where displaced Ukrainians will eventually want to return.
MAT Kosovo, part of the PCM Group of companies, is recognised globally as one of the best venues for specialist training to International Mine Action Standards outside of the military.
Mr. Artur Tigani, of MAT Kosovo is the Chief Instructor for the Ukrainian course, said: “Working with the Friends of Ukraine EOD is a privilege, as a Kosovo company, we have long been the premier training provider to the explosive ordnance disposal sector worldwide. Over the years in Peja, we have welcomed students from over 70 countries, and together with our partners at PCM we have trained well over 1,000 of them.
“We’re looking forward to working with the Ukrainian service personnel – it is our life’s work to save lives, and help others save lives.
“Kosovo remains the best place in the world to be trained, to the very highest standards, and be trained by mainly Kosovo nationals. As a team, we don’t just carry the experience of Kosovo’s own clearance efforts, but we’ve continuously learned and upgraded ourselves, through interactions with our clients, partner organisations, and active deployments. Our work will help to make difference on the ground in Ukraine.”
MAT Kosovo has delivered training to Ukrainian rescue services personnel as recently as December 2021. Now, under the waiver system for Ukrainians, the students can come to Kosovo since the Guernsey based charity requested MAT Kosovo conduct this life saving training at its purpose-built facility.
The training of the Ukrainian women will also be documented by ‘Vice News’, a US news network with a reputation for unbiased and independent documentary coverage. FoU-EOD and Kosovo will take centre stage in what will be the first of many courses to be held in Kosovo, intended to make a real difference to the security of the civilian population in Ukraine now and the long term.
Mr. Ben Remfrey, advisor to FoU-EOD and Managing Director of MAT Kosovo said: “Channel Islanders should be rightly proud of Friends of Ukraine EOD. The daunting task of conducting surveys in Ukraine, in the first instance, to enable the clearing of the land of unexploded ordnance such as cluster munitions, minefields, and other explosive remnants of war will be critical.
“MAT Kosovo has a long reputation for technical expertise and hard work. Lest we forget that Kosovo itself, with the help of generous support from islanders rid itself of the contamination of the explosive remnants of war only a few years ago. For Kosovo now to be the place where Ukrainians will get the very best levels of current training, which their country so desperately needs to rid areas of these indiscriminate killers”.
The charity is seeking to raise further funding, to achieve its initial aims in providing specialist equipment and further training for the survey and clearance of explosive ordnance in Ukraine.
Friends of Ukraine EOD Director, Andrea Dudley-Owen said: “This has to be a long-term endeavour if we are to truly make an impact on the ground clearing Ukraine of the remnants of this war and making it safe for people to live and eventually return. The Directors have pulled out the stops and acted swiftly to set up this charity in response to the urgency of the situation in Ukraine.
“It’s fantastic to have a first cohort, especially of all female personnel, starting intensive training this week in Kosovo so that they can return and use their specialist skills in the often painstaking work of survey and ordnance clearance in Ukraine. This is exactly what we set out to do with this charity.”
The main image shows the first group of Ukrainians to attend the IMAS EOD training since the Russian Federations invasion. The image is set in the MAT Kosovo EOD Training Establishment, Peja, at the foot of the imposing Accursed Mountains.