Cover Story

Mines hamper civilians’ daily activities: Chief of UNMANS

By Mandela Nelson Denis

As United Nation Mine Action Services (UNMAS) celebrated the 20th anniversary of its services to clear mines all over the world and in South Sudan in particular, Tim Lardner, the Chief, Mine Action in the country said that mines are stopping South Sudanese from running their daily activities.

Mr. Tim said that activities such as farming and other activities that were sources of livelihood had been affected by the presence of landmines in some areas, though he said his team was working hard to ensure South Sudan was mine free.

“We need peace so that the Mine Action team can do its work effectively because there are some areas that are not accessible to us due to the ongoing conflict. But if peace is achieved, then we will be able to remove all the mines,” Mr. Tim said.

“We need to remove all the mines so that South Sudanese can go about doing their activities in order to support themselves.”  Mr. Tim told Juba Monitor in an exclusively interview at Nimule Logistic Hotel in Juba on Saturday evening.

He appealed to South Sudanese not to touch any unknown objects and encouraged them to report any suspected object(s) to UNMASS and the concerned authorities so that such could be handled by the UNMAS demining team.

David Shearer, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in South Sudan (SRSG), applauded UNMAS for the great job it was doing in South Sudan amidst all the challenges the country was facing.

The occasion witnessed musical performances from the Jay Family Entertainment and Giada Girls, with their “be aware of mines “song that creates awareness to the general public not to touch unknown objects they came across.

According to Mr. Tim Lardner, Imotong state and some areas in the Upper region were the most affected areas with Mines. Other areas were also reported to be immensely infested with landmines including anti-personal landlines.

Following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, which ended the longest bloody civil war between the then Southern Sudan and Khartoum, it was reported that thousands of landmines remained on the ground in Southern Sudan.

There were no maps of the areas where the thousands of the mines were planted by both the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). Some of the commanders who had the maps on both sides were said to have died in the war.

A land mine is an explosive device concealed under or on the ground and designed to destroy or disable enemy targets, ranging from combatants to vehicles and tanks, as they pass over or near it.

Such a device is typically detonated automatically by way of pressure when a target steps on it or drives over it, although other detonation mechanisms are also sometimes used.  A land mine may cause damage by direct blast effect, by fragments that are thrown by the blast, or by both.

Landmines come in two varieties: anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines. Both have caused great suffering in the past decades, according to Landmine United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA). But International Campaign to Ban Landmines reports that antipersonnel landmines claim victims across the globe each day.

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