29 January 2013 – Focusing on vital demining work and its benefits for continued peace in South Sudan, UNMISS held a Mine Action Open Day with partner organizations today in Juba.
The event aimed to bring together mine action partners, the public and civil society to show and share their experiences, said Lance Merlin, UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) Programme Manager.
“(We are) inviting the families whose husbands, wives, daughters, sons, and relatives work for Mine Action to see how their people are contributing to the development of the country,” Mr. Merlin said.
The Day included demonstrations of dogs detecting explosive vapours, manual mine clearance road surveys, battle area clearance, explosive ordnance disposal and equipment used in demining activities.
National Mine Action Authority (NMAA) Deputy Chairman Nyang Chol Dhuor said the NMAA and contributing organizations had trained nearly two million people in mine risk education, removed over 50,000 landmines and UXOs, and cleared and released to communities more than 71 million square metres of land.
The NMAA oversees all mine action activities in South Sudan. Contributing partners include UNMAS, MECHEM demining company, Norwegian People’s Aid, South Sudan Integrated Mine Action Service, The Development Initiative, Danish Demining Group, DanChurchAid and Mine Tech. International.
The Day also featured mine victims, including six-year Stephen Gatwech, who lost his left leg to a landmine while traveling with his grandmother from Bentiu, Unity State, to his home village.
“Gatwech is no longer (as strong as) … he was before,” said his father Jacob Riek. “Children are our future. Parents should take care of young ones properly.” He told the attendees to heed the danger landmines and other unexploded ordnances posed, as they discriminated against neither age nor class.
Mr. Riek appealed to the government of South Sudan and the UN to eradicate landmines and make the earth a better place for human habitation.
Mine action achievements in South Sudan occurred through the support of donors, partners, UNMISS, UNMAS and others, according to UNMAS Programme Manager Merlin.