Sudan has engaged in mine action activities since the early 1990s. These efforts intensified after the signing of the Nuba Mountains Ceasefire Agreement in 2001. Following this agreement, the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) began to cooperate in the area of mine action. An UNMAS Programme was established in 2002 following a tri-partite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the Government of Sudan (GoS), the SPLM and UNMAS. The agreement provided the framework for mine action activities throughout Sudan. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in 2005 and the UN Security Council Resolution 1590 that established the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) further enhanced the role of the UN in the field of mine action.
The UN Mine Action Office (UNMAO) was established as an integral part of UNMIS with regional offices in the North, South and Darfur areas of Sudan. With the expiration of the UNMIS mandate in July 2011, the mine action programme in Sudan downsized and transitioned the lead role of mine action to the Sudan National Mine Action Center (NMAC). In late 2014, UNDP and the Sudanese Government requested the re-engagement of UNMAS to support further capacity development needs. In April 2015 UNMAS became the lead mine action actor following an assessment mission in March 2015. UNMAS now supports and assists the NMAC in building institutional capacity, meeting obligations under Article 5 of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (‘Ottawa Treaty’) and other relevant international treaties, in addition to mobilizing resources for land release, mine risk education (MRE) and victim assistance (VA).
Since its independence in 1956, Sudan has suffered a number of long-lasting conflicts that have contaminated the country with anti-personnel and anti-tank mines as well as other explosive remnants of war (ERW). Mines and ERW were used by all parties during the conflicts, contaminating tens of millions of square metres of land and causing hundreds of civilian casualties. Today, 9 of 18 States of Sudan are reported to be affected by landmines and ERW, with the highest concentration in South Kordofan, Kassala and Blue Nile States. On 3 May 2016, Gadaref State was announced free of known landmines and ERW.
Since 2002, more than 2,049 mine/ERW victims have been registered in the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA). Over the last three years, the number of mine/ERW victims has risen considerably. Compared to 2013, the number of victims has increased by 20 per cent in 2014 with 36 casualties reported and by 77 per cent in 2015 with 53 casualties reported, of which approximately 38 per cent of the victims are children. There was a total of 22 victims of landmines / ERW in 2016 alone.
The priority of UNMAS is to support the NMAC, to release land through survey and clearance operations to local communities and grant access to the wider humanitarian community to enable the delivery of emergency and life-saving aid. As of December 2016, out of the recorded 127.5 square km of contaminated land, 101 square km has been cleared. UNMAS resumed the land release, MRE and VA in Kassala and Red Sea States in May 2016, with the generous funding from the Governments of Japan and Italy, respectively.
The Government of Sudan ratified the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention on 13 October 2003 and became a State Party to the convention in April 2004. Sudan met its obligation under Article 4 of the treaty in March 2008, by completing the destruction of all AP stockpiles. Sudan requested and was granted an extension to the Article 5 deadline to meet its Ottawa Treaty obligations by 1 April 2019. If the requisite funding is secured, the remaining known mines and ERW contaminated lands in Kassala and Red Sea States can be cleared/removed leading to the declaration of the Eastern States as free from landmines by end of 2017.
Since the separation of Sudan and South Sudan in July 2011, the ongoing conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States has limited any mine action operations in these States; however if the national dialogue between the Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) finds resolution, urgent mine action operations will be required to open routes for the delivery of emergency humanitarian assistance.
In 2017, US $13.2 million is required to complete release operations in the Eastern States, conduct emergency clearance in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States, conduct MRE, VA and strengthen national capacity. To date, the programme has received in total US$ 1.2 million from the Governments of Japan and Italy for land release, MRE, VA and capacity building activities.
Updated: January 2017