Juba, 31 March 2021 – The Government of Japan has contributed US $137,100 to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), for the mine action project “Developing an Emergency National Capacity to Address Explosive Risk, to Support Recovery, COVID-19 Preparedness and Response, and Development in South Sudan”. The Government of Japan’s funding will support the mobilization of a national field team to carry out survey and clearance of explosive ordnance in Juba County, Central Equatoria. The team’s work will promote community safety, enable safe return, humanitarian response and sustainable development, and contribute to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive communities for returnees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and community members. The funding will also support efforts to build the capacity of the NMAA to plan, coordinate, and manage mine action operations.
While ongoing implementation of the Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity remains critical to ensuring peace and stability across the country, the humanitarian crisis persists with 8.3 million people—over two-thirds of the population—in need of humanitarian assistance. This crisis has only been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. UNMAS, together with the Government of Japan, is committed to preventing the spread of the virus while ensuring our vital work, which includes protecting civilians and enabling humanitarian operations, will provide meaningful assistance to mine-affected communities and the people of South Sudan.
Currently 347 distinct sites covering approximately 18.2 km2 of land are thought to be contaminated with landmines, cluster munitions, and other explosive hazards. In November 2020, South Sudan’s five-year extension request for the Ottawa Treaty was unanimously approved. The extension is based on a detailed plan and the country’s ability to achieve its commitment to fulfil the treaty obligations—clearance of all mined areas—before 2026. The requirement for a clearance capacity to react to spot tasks to dispose of unexploded ordnance is, however, likely to remain for decades. Hence there is a requirement to build the Government of South Sudan’s National Mine Action Authority (NMAA)’s capacity to respond appropriately to the threats posed by explosive ordnance and to manage the long-term issues.
His Excellency Mr. Naohiro Tsutsumi, the Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of South Sudan stated, “Japan has been supporting UNMAS in its mine action activities in providing secured spaces for people’s livelihood. I wish those spaces will further benefit people in facilitating peaceful co-existence among the local residents, IDPs and returnees. Furthermore, I am sure that it will help pave the way to a brighter future of South Sudan by promoting local agriculture and economic activities in a longer term.” During the past year, Japan’s assistance enabled the clearance of over 21,029 m² of land and the destruction of 14 items of explosive ordnance in Eastern Equatoria. A total of 1,287 South Sudanese IDPs, returnees, and members of host communities, including 271 women and 624 children, received explosive ordnance risk education to mitigate the threat of explosive hazards.
Mr. Richard Boulter, the Senior Programme Manager of UNMAS in South Sudan said, “UNMAS is extremely grateful to the Government of Japan for this contribution which will enable it to maintain critical support to the National Mine Action Authority and which demonstrates Japan’s commitment to making South Sudan safe for all.”