March 8, 2018 (MALAKAL) – The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in South Sudan has confirmed that a deminer working for a contracting partner suffered serious injuries while working at a demolition site and later died in hospital.
A second deminer, UNMAS said in a statement, received minor injuries in the incident which took place at Melut in South Sudan’s Upper Nile region on 7 March 2018.
UNMAS South Sudan Programme Manager, Tim Lardner, said the mine action community in South Sudan was deeply shocked by the loss of their long-time colleague.
“Our deepest sympathy and condolences go to the family of the deceased who had devoted much of her life to removing explosive hazards in South Sudan and was committed to building a safer country for future generations,” said Lardner.
“UNMAS is working with its partners, including the South Sudan National Mine Action Authority, to fully investigate the cause of the incident and to support the friends and relatives of our departed colleague,” he added.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN in South Sudan, David Shearer, also expressed his sympathy to the family, friends and colleagues of the deminer.
“My sincere condolences go to all of those who will be deeply affected by this tragic loss – the family and friends – but also the entire mine action community who work so hard in challenging and dangerous conditions to make the environment safer for the people of South Sudan,” said Shearer.
According to UNMAS, large areas of South Sudan are littered with explosive hazards after decades of conflict in the East African nation and that nearly 90 million m2 are of the country are thought to be contaminated by landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO).
Since its inception in South Sudan in 2004, UNMAS has reportedly surveyed vast tracts of land, cleared 37,839 landmines and 939,552 UXO to make 998 water points, 180 schools and 152 clinics safe for use by local communities.
“At this sad time, we remember our departed colleague and the lasting contribution she has made to the development of her country. We also pay homage to the brave and highly skilled women and men in the 49 demining teams currently operating across South Sudan,” said Lardner.
He said that UNMAS, part of the UN mission in South Sudan, will continue to work tirelessly to remove the threat of explosive hazards, to protect civilians, and support the safe delivery of humanitarian aid.
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