Südsudan-Uganda: Landwirtschaft durch Landminen gefährdet
Landwirtschaftliche Gemeinden an der südsudanischen-ugandischen Grenze fürchten Landminen und Blindgänger, die seit den gewaltsamen Konflikten in ihren Feldern liegen. (in Englisch)
SOUTH SUDAN-UGANDA: Mine clearance to boost agriculture
NGOMOROMO, 4 August 2011 (IRIN) - Farming communities living along the South Sudan-Uganda border are afraid to till their land, with the risk of landmines and other unexploded ordnance (UXOs) remaining high in the region after years of civil conflict.
"Landmines are a big problem here; my sister was blown up in 2007 after she visited this village [Lelabur in Ngomoromo] in the hope of returning," Roselina Achan told IRIN in Ngomoromo, northern Uganda's Lamwo district.
Achan was speaking during the handover of a 4km stretch of demined farmland in Ngomoromo on 29 July.
The threat of landmines and UXOs has forced former residents of the Agoro, Ngomoromo and Ogili areas in northern Uganda to settle in satellite camps.
The landmines in Lelabur village were planted after 1997 when residents fled to the Lukung internally displaced persons (IDP) camp to seek refuge, said a 72-year-old woman living in one of the satellite camps.
Landmine-related deaths in Lelabur, for example, have heightened residents' concerns.
According to a local leader, Cosmas Odwogo, at least 19 people have been killed in landmine explosions in Lelabur east and west since 2000. Several heads of cattle have been killed too.
Landmines have also been identified in the Agur, Lelapwot, Parapono and Pawo villages, said Odwogo. "In some of these villages the mines have been washed [up] and they are lying on the ground," he said.
He said attempts to set fire to the affected fields during the dry season to explode the mines had been futile. "We urgently need government intervention to clear our land so that we can return home and start cultivation," he said.
There is a need to scale up mine risk education to help protect vulnerable communities, according to officials.
On the South Sudan side of the border, farming activities have been adversely affected by the landmine threat, said Ajweng Yubu of Laboni village.
"The situation is bad in Laboni and other places in South Sudan where landmines were planted along roadsides, water points and farming areas," said Yubu. "I don't know when we will confidently walk and cultivate our land without fear."
Even in demined areas, officials recommend caution.
"Cleared mine fields can contain remnants of landmines," said Rodger Lutalo of UN Development Programme. "Deminers normally do 98 percent of the work while the community does 2 percent, so it's up to you to remain vigilant and report any suspicious objects lying on the ground."
Some 400 northern Ugandan villages have been cleared of landmines since 2005, with 329 "hazardous" villages remaining, according Rodger Lutalo, a programme officer of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Kampala. Some 5,000 UXOs and landmines were detonated over the same period.
The Ugandan government hopes the areas will have been cleared by 2012, said the Minister for Disaster Preparedness, Relief and Refugees, Musa Ecweru.
But mine clearance is challenging, said a senior technical adviser with the Danish Demining Group, Matti Nikkila.
"Here, we are doing it [mine clearance] manually yet the vegetation is thick, making it hard to do the work," said Nikkila.