Local NGO calls for demining around schools in C. Equatoria State
A national Non-Governmental Organisation has appealed to the South Sudan government and development partners to conduct land mine risk awareness-raising and demining programs around school premises ahead of the re-opening of schools across Central Equatoria State.
After the signing of the revitalized peace agreement, some schools in rural counties and payams of the state were occupied by armed actors according to past reports published by the peace monitors.
However, with the formation of the national, state, and county local governments, hundreds of returnees and internally displaced persons are returning to resettle in their former areas.
Recently, community leaders and education stakeholders in the Yei area have voiced the need to re-open schools to allow children to continue learning under strict Covid-19 preventive guidelines.
Mutto Emmanuel, the Executive Director of Action for Community Transformation Initiative, a national NGO supporting education programs in Central Equatoria State, told Radio Tamazuj that land mine safety measures for school children remain a major challenge.
“There is much need for land mine risk awareness and demining programs in most of the schools on the unexploded ordinance and most of the schools have been occupied by the military and we are concerned about the level of destruction and child safety,” Mutto said. “Our constitution and the child Act talks about the safety and wellbeing of every child and we urge all stakeholders on the need for comprehensive support for every child before schools are re-opened.”
Chapter two of the revitalized peace agreement demands all armed forces occupying civilian centers, including school facilities, to vacate them for civilian use.
Malish William Isaac, the Morobo County Education Director, concurred that although soldiers have vacated school facilities, there is a need for land mine risk awareness programs in the community.
“My concern is that I had some schools occupied by soldiers, for example in Panyume, Lujule, and Panyana in the past, and they have vacated the schools and now that they are out there is a need for land mine risk awareness before my pupils could go to the school,” Malish said.
Morobo County in Central Equatoria State was severely affected by the 2016 conflict.