31 March 2015

South Sudanese authorities should confirm or deny the claimed use of antipersonnel mines

 South Sudan Signing Maputo Declaration 599 350

Chairperson of South Sudan Demining Authority signing the Maputo +15 Declaration at the Third Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty, 27 June 2014 (c) the Convention's Implementation Support Unit, ISU.

Geneva, 30 March 2015 -- The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) is concerned by a recent report detailing possible new use of antipersonnel mines by the armed forces of the government of South Sudan in Nassir, Upper Nile State.

“The use of antipersonnel mines is the most egregious violation possible of the Mine Ban Treaty and it endangers civilian lives,” said ICBL Director Megan Burke. “South Sudan’s people have suffered enough from years of conflict without adding to the already considerable burden of its landmine problem.”

 According to a report by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD)--a group of east African states monitoring the ceasefire in South Sudan—at a meeting convened by South Sudan government forces in Upper Nile State on March 12, a government forces officer “stated clearly that anti-personnel mines had been deployed in the area around Nassir.”

Observers of the IGAD Monitoring & Verification Mechanism and staff members of UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) were present at the meeting.

In an article published by Bloomberg, South Sudan Army information director Malaak Ayuen denied any use of antipersonnel mines and said “We welcome IGAD to go to Nassir and verify for themselves.”

South Sudan became a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty on 11 November 2011, committing to the ban on antipersonnel mines and obligations to clear mined land, destroy stockpiles, and assist victims.

In April 2013, South Sudan declared that the government had destroyed its stockpile of antipersonnel mines and no longer had any stocks of the weapons. This statement was repeated in April 2014.

The ICBL calls on South Sudanese authorities to confirm or deny the claimed use of antipersonnel mines at Nassir and ensure no antipersonnel mine are ever used by governmental forces. The ICBL urges the government of South Sudan to respond to the request for clarification made by the IGAD’s Joint Technical Committee. South Sudan should provide a report at the upcoming intersessional meeting of the Mine Ban Treaty in June 2015.

The ICBL also sent a letter to the President of South Sudan to convey its concerns and messages.