By Julius Gale JUBA
South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The UN mine agency
said it has destroyed one million landmines and explosives since it
started operations in South Sudan some 14 years ago.
Speaking at a ceremony for disposal of the 1,000,000th explosive
item on Wednesday, Richard Boulter, program manager of the United
Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in South Sudan, said the
destroyed items were recovered from an area stretching about one
billion square meters of land previously contaminated with explosive
Boulter added that the UN is seeking to secure another 39 square
kilometers of land still contaminated by explosives in the next five
"Together we have cleared 1.25 billion square meters of land, but
the number that matter now is that one which remains."
"And our estimate at the moment is approximately 39 square
kilometers (areas still contaminated with explosives), comprised of
210 mines fields, 124 cluster strikes and 35 battles areas," Boulter
"These areas are known and have got a plan to clear them and it’s
my view that all of the known tasks will be cleared within the next
three to five years.
"Nine people have been hurt this month alone and the problem goes
on," he added.
According to UNMAS, decades of conflict in South Sudan have
plagued nearly 90 million square meters of land with explosive
The agency said existence of explosive hazards prevents the
delivery of humanitarian aid and hinder socioeconomic development in
the world’s youngest nation.
It added that about 5,000 people have either been killed or
injured by remnants of war since 2004.
Barrach Jurkuch, chairman of the National Mine Action Authority,
hailed the significant progress made in clearing explosives in South
Sudan, adding that a mine-free land could boost agriculture and ease
delivery of relief assistance.
"We (are) grateful to the international community for job well
done and support to South Sudanese.
"We are going to ask for five years extension to our work on
landmines so that we declare South Sudan a mine-free country,"
"We hope the NGOs and the companies will continue with this work
so that we clear the landmines in the contaminated areas of South
Sudan and we have the land free," he added.