Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

In Amadi, a village located a few kilometers from South Sudan’s capital, Juba, local communities used to live in fear.

Unexploded ordnance—a reminder of past civil wars—littered their ancestral lands making farming impossible and posing risks to women, children, and men as they went about their daily tasks.

The United Nations Mine Action Service, however, was quick to respond, once community members alerted them about their dire situation.

“Over the last year, our deminers have been actively involved in clearing Amadi of all explosive hazards,” reveals Zehrudin Sukanovic, Acting Chief of UNMAS. “So far, we have managed to identify and safely destroy 23 dangerous items,” he adds.

The impact of this intervention, says traditional leader, Martin Lokule, is life changing.

“We can now walk on safe grounds, farm our lands and our children can play freely,” he stated with a smile.

To mark the clearance effort, UNMAS hosted an event last week that gave Amadi communities, National Mine Action Authority (NMAA) partners and the UN family a chance to see a live demonstration of clearance activities that included state-of-the-art equipment as well as deminers and their canine companions showcasing their skills.

Mike Fula, the NMAA representative, says he believes UNMAS is a firm partner in South Sudan’s quest to be mine-free.

“Our UNMAS partners have been instrumental in saving lives across the country and we have a shared commitment to creating an environment conducive to sustainable peace and development,” he stated.

For her part, Anita Kiki Gbeho, Deputy Special Representative-Humanitarian for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, was visibly moved by speaking to beneficiaries.

“The work done by UNMAS deminers makes a tangible difference to the lives of people by empowering them to travel and live freely; boost trade; and, ultimately, allow them to prosper in a safe environment,” she said.  

But perhaps the most simple but eloquent endorsement for such work came from deminer Agnes Tol, Team Leader for this project.

“As deminers, we work in torrential rain and in the scorching sun. Clearing land is a painstaking and tough job. But everything becomes worthwhile when you see communities thrive, peacekeepers patrol freely to boost security and humanitarian partners deliver lifesaving aid to the most vulnerable,” she stated.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

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