South Sudan given until 2026 to clear mines
Garang Abraham, Juba
South Sudan has been given until 2026 to clear all anti-personnel minefields, according to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.
The announcement comes following a unanimous decision reached during the 18th Meeting of the State Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and their Destruction, also known as the Ottawa Treaty.
The meeting saw almost 500 delegates representation nation states, international and non-governmental organisations voting on a variety of resolutions.
Since joining the Convention following independence, South Sudan has shrunk an original 404km² of minefields down to 19.5km².
The 2026 deadlines allows South Sudan to focus on clearing remaining mined territory, in accordance with Article 5 of the Convention of Eradicating All Anti-Personnel Minefields Areas in the Country.
This last stretch of mine clearance will include minefields, unexploded ordinance and spent cluster munitions, according to South Sudan’s National Mine Action Authority and the UN Mine Action Service.
Speaking following the conference on Monday, the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) noted the next 6 years of mine clearance are conditional on sustained peace and increased funding from the international community.
Jurkuch Barach – director of Mine Action Authority – who attended the meeting told Eye Radio on Monday that even with the extension, they may face more challenges in clearing the remaining minefields.
“We may finish our work if there is peace. Let’s hope that we work harder and finish the work in five years’ time,” Barach stated.
Unexploded ordinance and mines is a growing problem across South Sudan. Last week, two children died following a suspected ordinance explosion whilst grazing goats west of Juba.
According to UNMAS, more than 5,000 South Sudanese, including 249 children have been killed or injured by landmines and unexploded ordinance since 2004.
It estimated that more than a million explosive items, including more than 33,000 anti-personal mines, 5,900 anti-tank mines and 74,000 cluster munitions, have been found and destroyed since 2004.