Officials in 7 out of the region’s 10 states have indicated that the votes cast in their areas are widely in favour of secession. Last week, international observers from the European Union election observation mission gave the referendum their seal of approval, saying the voting process had been “credible and well-organised in a mostly peaceful environment.” With such endorsement, it therefore looks likely the South will split away from the North and may become the first new country in Africa for nearly twenty years. U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, called on leaders in both the North and South to “forge a durable peace” and pledged the support of the United States in helping to ensure a “more prosperous future for all Sudanese”.
Ravaged by over twenty years of civil war which finally ended with a peace agreement in 2005, the leaders of South Sudan will have their work cut out to build a ‘more prosperous’ nation. The country bears the scars of its long turmoil and reminders of the long war are never far away. In particular, one agency working in the region continues to highlight the ongoing dangers of landmines. Mines Advisory Group (MAG) is active in South Sudan educating communities about the dangers of landmines. The not-for-profit organisation sends experts to areas where mines are discovered to assess the situation and eventually support the removal of the devices.
In Torit county, a mine exploded close in the village of Imorok when a cow stepped on the device. MAG workers were called in and found the crater from the explosion was less than 100 metres from the local primary school. Danger signs were erected and a technical survey was carried out to demarcate the mined area. Education sessions were also held among the locals and with the children at the school. The head teacher, George Hehor, said “all our local children play in the bushes around the school, so informing them of the dangers of mines and bombs was crucial”.
Angelo Lawrence is a local Sudanese man who has been working with MAG for four years and was the first to respond when the mine exploded at the village. He is proud of the work he and his team do to ensure the safety of those living in the community and knows that while others concentrate on building a better future for South Sudan, his role is to “help keep the people of my country safe.”