After decades of civil war, Sudan is widely contaminated by mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). The Sudan mine action program, supported by UNOPS, is the second largest such programme in the world, with an annual estimated budget of $80 million.
Sudan is the largest and one of the most diverse countries in Africa. With the exception of an 11-year period of relative peace, the country has witnessed continuous civil war between the mainly Muslim north and the Animist and Christian south since independence in 1956.
In early 2009 a peace agreement was signed between the main parties, but 19 out of the 25 states in Sudan remain affected by mines and ERW to some degree.
The Emergency Mine Action Programme in Sudan was started in 2002, and evolved significantly when the United Nations Mine Action Office (UNMAO) was established in Sudan in March 2005 as an integral part of the UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to help build peace by providing humanitarian demining assistance, technical advice and coordination.
UNMAO continues to clear high priority roads, minefields and ERW contaminated areas in support of humanitarian and development activities, and the safe movement of internally displace persons.
The mine risk education sector led by UNICEF continues to provide mine risk awareness to affected populations with a particular focus on internally displaced persons, returnees and vulnerable communities.
Victim Assistance projects also continue to progress with monthly meetings of two victim assistance working groups. To help build national capacity, UNMAO, in partnership with UNDP continues to provide valuable assistance to three national mine action groups.
Some key achievements include:
- Opening of more than 38,000 km of roads
- Clearance of more than 56million square meters of land
- Destruction of over 22,000 mines and over 850,000 pieces of unexploded ordnance
- Education of 3.1 million people about mine awareness issues
- The opening of all known priority roads in the Blue Nile State
- Clearance of 75 percent of all known dangerous areas in the Northern Region
To help the Government of Sudan meet the Ottawa Convention requirements which involves the destruction of all mines by April 2014, the UNMAO in Sudan has developed and adopted the Multi Year Plan. The first phase of this plan which covers the period up to June 2011 contains a number of critical milestones including all high and medium impacted communities being cleared of mines and ERW, and the handover of ownership to the national authorities.