International Mine Awareness Day is observed annually on 4 April and usually attracts large crowds to reflect on the progress made in removing landmines and explosive remnants of war. It also provides opportunities to raise awareness of these explosive devices that continue to threaten millions of people worldwide. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was celebrated somewhat differently this year.
The spread of the virus made it incredibly difficult and unsafe to celebrate the day’s events with the usual large groups of people. Initially, teams in South Sudan planned to host basketball games, provide risk education sessions, whilst children from local schools performed skits and sang songs. Ultimately, clearance teams in South Sudan joined together and came up with a solution to still mark the occasion in a different way; a radio awareness campaign.
The radio campaign that took place was dedicated to the theme, “together make South Sudan free from landmines.” Representatives from many of the clearance organisations based in South Sudan took part in these interviews and talk shows in Juba and Torit. The panellists continued to raise awareness of landmines through the talk shows, highlighting the achievements of the mine clearance activities taking place throughout the country. TDI was represented by our Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) Coordinator; Arek John Akut, EORE team member; Margaret Achiro, TDI Community Liaison Officer; Mandela Godfrey, and one of our female deminers; Ruth Yule. During the interviews, the TDI team discussed what TDI are doing in South Sudan, how they are working with local communities to support various countrywide projects and the measures that have been taken to continue with mine clearance activities in the face of challenges. The limitations on events held this year were to help prevent the spread of the virus, yet this was not the end of our teams’ efforts. They still managed to raise awareness of explosive devices over the radio in order to reach as many people as safely as possible.