SOUTH SUDAN / RUBKONA TOWN EXPLOSIONS

02-Nov-2023 00:03:29
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) dispatched specialized teams to respond safety threats in Rubkona. UNMISS
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STORY: SOUTH SUDAN / RUBKONA TOWN EXPLOSIONS
TRT: 03:29
SOURCE: UNMISS
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGES: ENGLISH / NUER / NATS

DATELINE: 13 AUGUST 2023, RUBKONA, SOUTH SUDAN
SHOTLIST
1. Various shots, demolish and clearing of UXO

2. SOUNDBITE (English) Maj. Gen. William Manyang, SSPDF, BENTIU:
“We have 15 people who were wounded; six were soldiers and the rest are the families of our soldiers in the Division. Thank God, nobody died but we have two women and one young girl who lost their legs.”
3. Various shots, deminers
4. SOUNDBITE (Nuer) Nyaken Geng, Survivor:
“All our belongings got burnt — mosquito nets, blankets and even utensils, sleeping materials, and even our ration card was burnt.”
5. Various shots, demolish and deminers clearing
6. SOUNDBITE (English): Jane Lanyero Kony, Head of Field Office, UNMISS, BENTIU:
“The unfortunate incident of 8 June was one that brought a lot of concern to the government, UNMISS and to the community, within the vicinity. And, on behalf of UNMISS, when the call came from the government for us to support, and as usual we are here to support the state government. We quickly rose up to the occasion.”
7. Various shots, deminers and government officials
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Fran O’Grady, Chief, UNMAS:
“We took time and listened and heard the voices of the community affected by this tragedy but today was a celebration. It was about coming together and looking at the success in clearance that could only happen with partnership and solid cooperation with all stakeholders.”
9. Various shots, victim and the mother
10. SOUNDBITE (Nuer) MARIA NYACHUOR, SSPDF PERSONNEL & SURVIVOR:
“I am very happy and thankful to them because they came to save our lives. They removed unexploded ammunitions from the store because these things are also dangerous for children who can [accidentally] play with it. This may bring more problems when they touch it. But now no child will be harmed.”
STORYLINE
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) dispatched specialized teams to respond safety threats in Rubkona.

On the night of 8 June, deafening explosions resounded around Rubkona town as a fire at the Division Four headquarters of the South Sudan People's Defense Force ammunitions depot caused dangerous ordnance to rip into homes and barracks resulting in civilian casualties.

SOUNDBITE (English) Maj. Gen. William Manyang, SSPDF, Bentiu: “We have 15 people who were wounded; six were soldiers and the rest are the families of our soldiers in the Division. Thank God, nobody died but we have two women and one young girl who lost their legs.”

UNMISS responded, dispatching specialized teams from UNMAS to respond to grave safety threats posed by unexploded ordnance and dangerous debris that littered not just the blast site but also many heavily populated areas nearby. In the immediate aftermath of the incident peacekeepers donated blood for affected civilians.

SOUNDBITE (Nuer) Nyaken Geng, Survivor: "All our belongings got burnt—mosquito nets, blankets and even utensils, sleeping materials, and even our ration card was burnt.”

But given that it was a massive explosion, the radius that deminers had to survey and clear was equally large and it took them over three months to declare the ground safe.

SOUNDBITE (English) Jane Lanyero Kony, Head Of Field Office, UNMISS BENTIU: “The unfortunate incident of 8 June was one that brought a lot of concern to the government, UNMISS and to the community, within the vicinity. And, on behalf of UNMISS, when the call came from the government for us to support, and as usual we are here to support the state government. We quickly rose up to the occasion.”

The committed UNMAS team worked round the clock, teaming up with relevant authorities and communities to clear dangerous debris, a task made more arduous because of the severe flooding in the state, which meant that some hazardous remains could well be under water. Their dedication paid off finally when on 26 September, UNMAS, UNMISS, the SSPDF and the acting Governor, jointly marked a successful clearance effort.

SOUNDBITE (English) Fran O’Grady, Chief, UNMAS: “We took time and listened and heard the voices of the community affected by this tragedy but today was a celebration. It was about coming together and looking at the success in clearance that could only happen with partnership and solid cooperation with all stakeholders.”

But perhaps the most heartfelt endorsement of UNMAS’ mammoth undertaking came from Maria Nyachuor, an SSPDF soldier and a survivor.

SOUNDBITE (Nuer) Maria Nyachuor, SSPDF Personnel and Survivor: “I am very happy and thankful to them because they came to save our lives. They removed unexploded ammunitions from the store because these things are also dangerous for children who can [accidentally] play with it. This may bring more problems when they touch it. But now no child will be harmed.”
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