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Women leading Thornhill-based Halo Trust's Ukraine demining task force gives insight into difficult task

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dailyrecord.co.uk

A woman heading up the Thornhill-based HALO Trust’s demining task force in Ukraine admits a tough job got even harder after Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of the country.Mairi Cunningham has worked in some of the world’s most hazardous trouble spots, including Syria, Cambodia, Somaliland and the disputed Caucasus region of Abkhazia.But the 33-year-old says nothing could have prepared her for life in war-hit Ukraine.The trust is ridding areas around Kyiv of deadly explosive devices with support of £2million funding from the UK Government.Mairi said: “When I took on this role in November no one could have imagined how things would unfold.

This is not exactly what I signed up for.“I knew there were security challenges of a hostile neighbour but I do not think anyone could have anticipated the situation was going to change so dramatically.“We’ve been working next to the frontline in the Donbas since 2016 and it had been a fairly entrenched frontline for many years.“I’ve worked in post-conflict environments clearing up explosive ordnance but suddenly living amongst an actual conflict of this scale adds a whole new dimension to the challenges of this job.”Mairi and her team of 400 deminers are playing a crucial role in helping people living around Kyiv attempt to get their lives back to some normality – removing the threat of mines and unexploded cluster munitions.The UK Government funding is enabling the trust to survey and then clear devices from areas in Ukraine where Russian troops have recently withdrawn.The charity, whose headquarters are in Thornhill, is also working to educate civilians, especially children, about the risks of landmines.Mairi, from Broughty Ferry, admitted she had her own near miss as the

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