Staff Update from South Sudan
An interview with Pauline Ballaman, Country Director of South Sudan
For almost a year, the political situation in South Sudan has been very unstable. How does this affect your operations?
Recent news suggests that there is a lot that divides the people of South Sudan. Tribal heterogeneity over vast territories and historical tribal and individual differences lend further credence to this picture of division and fracture in South Sudan. However, the one day/holiday that unites all South Sudanese across tribal and political lines is July 9th, 2011 - South Sudan's Independence Day.
My affinity for humanitarian demining began in 2000 while I was working at the State Department. The U.S. was providing humanitarian demining assistance to dozens of countries around the world, the majority of which were littered with non-American mines and unexploded ordnance. As Deputy Assistant Secretary, I saw first-hand the extraordinary value and return on investment of the U.S. Government – MAG public/private partnership.
One of the persistent misperceptions of minefields is that they are like a flat, rectangular, clearly-bounded football field. I’m not exactly sure who to blame: perhaps Hollywood, perhaps the computer game Minesweeper, perhaps simply the word “minefield”. But in South Sudan, reality is far more complex.