Juba, 6 December 2018 – A high-level delegation of the Embassy of Japan in South Sudan, the United Nations, and the representatives from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the National Mine Action Authority (NMAA) visited Kasire Village in Rajaf, on the outskirts of Juba Town. The delegation was led by H.E. Mr. Seiji Okada, the Ambassador of Japan to South Sudan, Mr. Alain Noudéhou, the UN DSRSG, Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, together with Mr. Henry Andrew Okwera, the Director General of the NMAA, and Mr. Richard Boulter, Programme Manager of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in South Sudan.
During the visit, an UNMAS humanitarian mine action team supported by a contribution from the Government of Japan conducted survey and risk education for the community, and demonstrated how unexploded ordnance (UXO) is destroyed. H.E. Ambassador Mr. Okada actively engaged with the team and the community.
“UNMAS’ work, with Japan funding, is very important for supporting refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) coming back to their own villages. Japan is committed to continue supporting the Peace Process through various forms of assistance, including assistance through UNMAS, so that people can safely come back and spend live peacefully,” said H.E. Ambassador Mr. Okada.
“I am delighted to see the significant and generous financial contribution from the people of Japan put to such great use by Mine Action authorities in order to protect civilians and build durable peace in this part of Juba. I hope that we can continue to build on this success and help more people return to live normal lives,” said DSRSG Mr. Noudéhou.
Kasire is a village that experienced fighting during the civil war and then witnessed further fighting in both 2013 and 2016. This pattern of violence led to the entire population deserting the village, but now they are returning. The village lay amid minefields that have been cleared by UNMAS and amid former battlefields, where UNMAS has frequently responded to reports of UXO. The village has started to grow, with an estimated 3,000 residents, including returnees. As villagers return to the area and commence the cultivation of ground that has not been farmed in several years, they run the risk of encountering additional explosive remnants of war (ERW). Thus UNMAS is intervening to clear any identified hazards and to educate the residents of Kasire in how to respond to such finds.
UNMAS and the NMAA also conducted joint quality assurance to assess the team’s survey and risk education operations, as part of the capacity building project supported by Japan.
Since 2011, sustained support from the Government of Japan for humanitarian mine action in South Sudan has greatly contributed to mitigating the impact of explosive hazards, ensuring people safely accessresources, enabling the delivery of humanitarian assistance, as well as strengthening the institutional capacity of the NMAA.
The Director General of the NMAA, Mr. Henry Andrew Okwera, is grateful and welcomed the support of the Government of Japan in humanitarian mine action activities in the Republic of South Sudan, saying, “Japan has been a long-term partner supporting mine action in South Sudan, and we hope this relationship will continue until such time that the NMAA will take the ownership of mine action in South Sudan and will be able to address all the needs of affected communities.”
The UNMAS Programme Manager, Mr. Richard Boulter, added, “It is critical to strengthen the capacity of the NMAA to plan, coordinate, and monitor mine action operations. UNMAS appreciates Japan’s strong initiative and vital support for humanitarian mine action activities, which is, and we hope will continue to be, a critical enabler of humanitarian aid, a key driver of socioeconomic development, and a strong enabler of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”