The United Nations welcomed the decision of South Sudan to become the newest member of the global convention banning the use, stockpiling, production and sale of anti-personnel mines, describing it as an “historic step” for a country plagued by countless mines left behind from years of war.
This afternoon, South Sudan formally became the 158th State to either ratify or accede to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention – which was adopted in Oslo, Norway, in 1997 – when its representative acceded to the treaty at UN Headquarters in New York.
“This represents another historic step in the positive growth of South Sudan as it takes its rightful place amongst the international community opposed to anti-personnel landmines,” said Lance Malin, the programme manager of the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre (UNMACC) in South Sudan.More than 2.2 million items – including anti-personnel mines, anti-tank mines, unexploded ordnance and small arms ammunition – have been removed or destroyed since 2005, UN News Service reports.
Malin pledged the UN’s ongoing help to South Sudanese authorities as they try to reduce the threat and impact of landmines and unexploded ordnance across the impoverished country, which became independent from Sudan in July. Mine risk education is a focus of UN efforts.
More than 2.2 million items – including anti-personnel mines, anti-tank mines, unexploded ordnance and small arms ammunition – have been removed or destroyed since 2005, when a peace agreement ended the long-running north-south Sudanese civil war.
The continuing presence of mines severely restricts the movement of staff with the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), humanitarian workers and local residents and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
UNMACC reported that each one of the country’s 10 states has recorded mine-related deaths and injuries, and at least 300 villages are known to be contaminated with mines.
UN mine action staff and local authorities have provided assistance to more than 2,700 people who have survived landmine accidents to allow them and their families to rebuild their lives.