In 2005, the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement marked the end of over twenty years of civil war in Southern Sudan. An overwhelming 99.9% of Southerners later voted in the 2011 referendum to secede from the north and create The Republic of South Sudan. Despite the end of the conflict however, more lives continue to be placed in danger as a result of landmines, explosive remnants of war and the massive proliferation of small arms and light weapons among the population.
Danish Demining Group (DDG) began working in southern Sudan in 2006 in the area of Humanitarian Mine Action and in 2009, in the field of Armed Violence Reduction. Through these two areas of work – and in close coordination with the recovery work of Danish Refugee Council (DRC) – DDG strives to create safe environments where people can lead peaceful lives free of the threats of explosives or armed violence. DDG and DRC work in partnership in Central Equatoria, Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Warrap states, while DDG also maintains its own operations in Unity, Western and Eastern Equatoria states.
DDG supports refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees and host communities through the delivery of Mine Risk Education and explosive ordnance disposal. DDG also ensures safe access for other humanitarian actors to areas where their aid is needed. DDG’s Village-by-Village approach and community-driven ethos ensures that teams respond to the concerns and fears of community members related to contamination in their areas. DDG also coordinates its activities through the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and the South Sudan National Mine Action Authority (NMAA).
In 2012, DDG cleared 140,616 m2 of land contaminated by unexploded ordnance to for allow building of homes, and agricultural and commercial use. Access to local resources and facilities has improved significantly in places where DDG works. In Torit County, 80 km East of Juba, unexploded ordnance no longer affect the livelihoods of the vast majority of communities in the area, according to interviews carried out by DDG staff.
Findings from community interviews show that the majority of residents in DDG’s project areas learned about the presence of unexploded ordnance through unintentional encounters, and children are particularly vulnerable to the presence of these items in South Sudan. Mine risk education activities focus on identifying risky behavior among children and protecting them from explosive accidents. So far, more than 50,000 men, women and children have participated in DDG’s Mine Risk Education classes.
Armed Violence Reduction
As a consequence of many years of war, firearms are widely available and armed violence commonplace throughout South Sudan. DDG uses the OECD’s Armed Violence Lens to analyze the causes of armed violence and develop tailored interventions to address the root causes of conflicts. Armed Violence Reduction (AVR) teams were first deployed in Eastern Equatoria state in late 2009, and in 2011 they expanded alongside DRC into Northern Bahr El Ghazal and Central Equatoria states. In 2012, DDG started up operations in Western Equatoria state and continues to expand the AVR activities in 2013.
In 2012, DDG delivered the following AVR activities:
- 1400 people trained in Conflict Management Education
- 3500 people trained in Firearm Safety Education
- 4 Small Arms Sensitization courses
- 8 Community – Security Provider coordination trainings for 290 people