The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) says it has cleared 25 anti-personnel mines from Pigi County in South Sudan, making the area safe to inhabit.
Last week, Sara Beysolow Nyanti, the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), visited Canal in Pigi County to get a first-hand account of the people living here. She said, “We’re responsible for about 75 percent of mine action, demining activities in South Sudan.
This is just one example of it. This community here only had 1,500 people. Because of the work we have done in mine action, you now have over 10,000 people. This is huge.”She added that people are now walking on safe ground. It wasn’t easy for UNMAS to clear the area, given that the rainy season was merely weeks away and the only way to reach Canal with the correct equipment was by boat.
As South Sudan struggles for peace, it’s still cleaning up the deadly threat posed by thousands of land mines from previous conflict decades ago. The explosives are a danger to fragile efforts at rebuilding and development
UNMAS is an integral component of UNMISS, mandated under Security Council Resolution 2567 (2021). It supports the four core objectives: protection of civilians, creating the conditions conducive to the delivery of humanitarian assistance, supporting the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement and the peace process, and monitoring and investigating human rights.
Fran O’Grady, Chief of Mine Action in South Sudan, said, “what we’ve done now is we’ve cleared the whole area behind us of anti-personnel mines. So, it’s really heartening to come back now, speak to some of those people we spoke to before, find out what difference it makes to their lives, also to look at the remaining challenges and advocate for their needs.”
More than 5,000 South Sudanese have been killed or injured by land mines and unexploded ordnance since 2004, according to the United Nations Mine Action Service. More than 1 million explosive items have been found and destroyed in South Sudan during that time, UNMAS says.