20 August 2010 – De-miners in Juba held a half-day open house in the UNMIS compound today to demonstrate their work to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN agencies operating in Central Equatoria State.
"So far we have cleared about 70 to 80 per cent of the communities' working areas but ... new areas keep on emerging to be cleared," said Lance Malin, chief of operations in Southern Sudan for the UN Mine Action Office (UNMAO).
"This continues to demand more resources. As a result, the work is getting bigger all the time," the UNMAO operations chief said.
The presence of land mines and other explosive remnants of war continue to pose a menace on roads and in villages, wells and farmland across the region.
About 80,000 pieces of unexploded ordnance and 19,000 anti-personnel mines have been cleared in Southern Sudan since the end of the country's second civil war, releasing an estimated 33,000 kilometres of roads and 54 million square metres of land for use by civilians.
Extensive efforts will be consistently needed over the next three to four years to safeguard Southern Sudan from the impact of land mines, Mr. Malin said.
Bangladesh Battalion De-mining Commanding Officer Maj. Mohamed Terek Abdullah said that de-mining expertise among local residents was still low.
"There is a need to create awareness among the population and build the capacity of local people working in the minefields (to) give them the chance to de-mine if international NGOs leave the country," said Maj. Abdullah.
Mr. Malin underscored the commitment of UNMAO to seek more funding from the international community to support the agency's work and make Southern Sudan completely mine-free.