Nelly Bassily | July 27, 2009
John Panchol Mac is a returning refugee. In 1991, he was living in Jonglei State, Southern Sudan, when the Bor massacre occurred. He and his family escaped to neighboring Uganda.
Mr. Mac spent fifteen years in a Ugandan camp for displaced persons. He looked forward to returning to his ancestral home, to continue with his traditional practice of farming. Before his displacement, Mr. Mac grew sorghum and okra on his small farm. He also reared domestic animals like goats, sheep, and cattle.
In November 2006, Mr. Mac got his wish. He and his elder son Majok Mac Deng returned home. They planned to prepare the ground for the arrival of the rest of their family members.
One clear morning, Mac went to graze his cattle while his son went to work on the farm. A few minutes later, Majok’s hoe hit metal under the ground. He had struck a landmine and was killed.
Southern Sudan is littered with landmines following two decades of civil war. Many people have been killed by landmines since the war ended. Mr. Jok Aring is a government official in Bor County. He says that the government is committed to the extraction of landmines in the area but cannot cover the whole area due to lack of funds. Mr. Aring added that there is a need to create more public awareness of the dangers of landmines.
Mrs. Ajok Mading is a spokesperson for women farmers in Jonglei State. Her group wants the government to do more. She explains that most of the victims of landmines are women, since culture and traditions dictate that women work on farms. The women farmers’ group advocates for women rights, including clearing of landmines in the area.
Mr. Jurkuch Barach is chairperson of the Southern Sudan Demining Authority. He says that his group is working closely with United Nations Mine Action organization to intensify demining in the states most affected by landmines: Jonglei, Western Equatoria, and Eastern Equatoria.