Mines Advisory Group räumt Blindgänger in Juba

Die Regierung von Süd-Sudan erbittet Hilfe, um die Blindgängergefahr für die Unabhängigkeitsfeierlichkeiten zu beseitigen. (in Englisch)

Blindgängermunition, die bei der Räumung des Areals gefunden wurden, in dem die Unabhängigkeitsfeierlichkeiten stattfinden sollen. (c) JB Russell / MAG


SOUTH SUDAN: Making Independence Day safe in Juba

MAG teams were recently called in to clear unexploded ordnance (UXO) from an area opposite the John Garang Memorial in Juba. The area, measuring approximately 54,000 square metres is where dignitaries from around the world and thousands of South Sudanese will take part in independence ceremonies on 9 July. 

MAG was asked by the Government of South Sudan to help clear unexploded ordnance from a large area in Juba, to make it safe for the thousands attending the declaration of independence ceremonies on 9 July.

All around the capital city of Juba, there is an unmistakable buzz in the air ahead of the ceremonies and celebrations that will mark the declaration of independence of South Sudan after more than two decades of civil war.

Everywhere one looks, women are sweeping the streets, large banners are being strung up, flowers are being planted, streets are being repaired, lamp posts are being installed, construction is going on and last-minute preparations are being made.

Last week, the South Sudan Demining Authority (SSDA) came to MAG’s operations base in Juba to request assistance.

After an initial assessment at the site where South Sudan will declare and celebrate independence on Saturday, MAG informed SSDA that a full search should be conducted in the area. MAG then received a full tasking order from the UN Mine Action Office after SSDA requested that this area received immediate priority clearance.

A large area measuring approximately 54,000 square metres just opposite the John Garang Memorial – where thousands of dignitaries from around the world and Sudanese will partake in independence ceremonies on 9 July – was discovered to be highly contaminated with UXO left over from the country’s long conflict.

The Government of South Sudan and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) turned to MAG to urgently help SPLA deminers clear the land and make it safe for the rapidly approaching historic day.

MAG immediately called in two Mine Action Teams, MATs 9 and 10, from the field to work with the SPLA teams at the memorial. During the war, the Sudan Armed Forces from Khartoum had built military barracks and weapons stores on the site.

At some point the weapons stores exploded scattering thousands of rockets, mortars, artillery shells, grenades and other munitions around the area.

MAG’s teams began the task by doing a visual survey of the area together with a platoon of SPLA deminers.

On 2 July, the honorable Giir Chuang Aluong, Minister of Internal Affairs, several Defence and Police Generals and 20 delegates came to the site to visit MAG and the SPLA conducting clearance.

Minister Aluong thanked MAG for taking on the task and said that MAG’s efforts to clear the area were essential, so that the preparations for Independence Day could continue and be completed on time.

He requested that MAG continue work and specifically asked MAG to assist with sub-surface Battle Area Clearance in two areas indicated by a SPLA engineering officer to be particularly contaminated and dangerous.

While MAG’s Mine Action Teams and SPLA demining teams worked side-by-side, MAG sent three Community Liaison teams to conduct Mine Risk Education sessions in an adjacent area where people were living and which was also found to be highly contaminated.

By midday on 5 July, MAG had completed the task and cleared away nearly 1,800 items (including small arms ammunition) to be destroyed in safe controlled demolitions outside Juba.

As the teams pulled away in their vehicles, on their way to the demolition site, military marching bands and traditional singers and dancers could be heard rehearsing and parading up and down in front of the John Garang Memorial in Juba.

The work carried out by MAG near the John Garang Memorial was thanks to funding from: Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, US Department of State; Spanish Government - AECID; UKaid (UK Department for International Development / DFID).

Source: AlertNet

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