Shabunda: United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) launched the Safe Ground campaign in the DRC by organizing a football match on 20 June 2019 at Divin Maître primary school in Shabunda Territory, South Kivu province. Funded by the Korean Cooperation Agency, KOICA, this tournament was organized between the 5th year students and the 6th year students of this school. Safe Ground aims at turning minefields into playing fields.
Since 1997, Shabunda territory, in South Kivu province, has been a scene of armed conflict. As a result, the territory is contaminated by explosive remnants of war, including sub munitions. Earlier this year, with support from KOICA, UNMAS deployed a multitask team in the region to conduct technical and non-technical surveys, clear contaminated areas and destroy identified explosive devices. During these operations, sub munitions were reported near schools, houses, roads, fields and water sources. At Divin Maître primary school, UNMAS discovered and destroyed a PM1 sub munition. The team successfully cleared the contaminated area from the school site. Risk education sessions were also organized for students and teachers after clearing the site. As a result, the school began the construction of new classrooms on the cleared area to extend the school building and improve its capacity to receive more students. In addition, the 351 students and teachers have now improved and safer access to education, in line with Sustainable Development Goal 4 (Quality education) and Sustainable Development Goal 15 (Safe land).
As Divin Maître school is now a safe land, UNMAS launched the Safe Ground campaign in the DRC at this school site through this tournament. The campaign aims at promoting a safe and secure environment for students to go to school safely, enabling improved access to quality education and thereby supporting the sustainable development of the country.
The football match brought together administrative, military, police, religious leaders, teachers, civil society, international organizations and other community members. UNMAS awarded a cup to the winning team as well as backpacks for the next school year and game card package including awareness lessons on the risks posed by mines and explosive remnants of war.
UNMAS also used this opportunity to sensitize the Shabunda community about the risks posed by explosive devices and the safe behavior to adopt in contaminated areas.