Since its independence in 1956, Sudan has suffered a number of conflicts that have contaminated the country with landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) used by all parties in the conflict. Today, the states of South Kordofan, West Kordofan and Blue Nile remain affected by landmines and ERW, while the five states that make up the Darfur region are affected by ERW only.
As of 31 December 2021, the results of mine action efforts undertaken in the region were as follows:
136.7 km2 of dangerous areas have been released for productive use.
38,448 km of roads have been verified or cleared.
10,366 anti-personnel mines, 3,335 anti-tank mines, and 171,663 unexploded ordnance have been found and destroyed.
4.7 million people received explosive ordnance risk education (EORE).
1,185 mine victims received assistance.
UNMAS supports the Sudan National Mine Action Center (NMAC) in building institutional capacity to meet Sudan’s obligation under Article 5 of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (‘Ottawa Treaty’), to make its territory mine-free by April 2023, and to provide humanitarian mine action. UNMAS mobilises funds and manages land release (survey and clearance), explosive ordnance risk education (EORE) and victim assistance (VA) activities in coordination with NMAC and ensures mine action activities are coordinated to support humanitarian, development and peacebuilding needs. UNMAS also provides technical advice and training for NMAC and national mine action NGOs.
UNMAS first engaged in Sudan in 2002. It handed over its lead role to NMAC in 2013. In 2015, the UNMAS Programme was re-established at the invitation of the Government of Sudan with an advisory and support role.
In January 2021, UNMAS Sudan was integrated into the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) to provide mine action service in support of the mission’s mandate.
UNITAMS was established in June 2020 with the mandate to support Sudan’s democratic transition and comprehensive peace process. Mine action was stipulated in support of strategic objective (iii) Assist peacebuilding, civilian protection and rule of law, in particular in Darfur and the Two Areas.
With the operational closure of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), UNMAS took over responsibility for the ERW response in Darfur from the Ordnance Disposal Office (ODO) of UNAMID.
UNMAS supports the Government of Sudan in its efforts to achieve Ottawa treaty compliance and dispose of other explosive hazards. UNMAS works in support of NMAC to release land through survey and clearance operations in local communities and to assure safe access to the humanitarian community to enable the delivery of life-saving aid. As of 31 December 2021, 136.7 km2 (84%) out of the recorded 162 km2 of contaminated land has been released. However, large swaths of contaminated land are likely to be underreported, particularly those under the control of non-state actors in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Jabbal Marra of Darfur states.
Explosive Ordnance Risk Education and Victim Assistance:
Explosive accidents often happen due to a lack of knowledge of the safe handling of found explosive devices. UNMAS provides risk education to populations living with the threat of explosives, and to humanitarian workers. UNMAS also supports victims of landmines / ERW through the provision of medical care, physical rehabilitation, psychosocial support, and socio-economic assistance. As of 31 December 2021, 2,444 mine/ERW victims were registered in the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA). The actual number of victims is likely to be much higher due to limited services in remote areas and no survey taking place in the areas under non-state control.
UNMAS Sudan strengthens national capacity through the provision of technical advice and training to NMAC and national NGOs on operations, leadership, quality assurance, and project management. The Government of Sudan ratified the Ottawa treaty on 13 October 2003 and became a State Party in April 2004. Sudan met its obligation under Article 4 of the treaty in March 2008, by completing the destruction of all its stockpiles of anti-personnel mines; however, the deadline for the country to complete its Article 5 obligation of removing all anti-personnel mines from its territory was extended to April 2023. In 2020, Sudan was the President of the Ottawa Treaty, chairing the 18th Meeting of States Parties.
UNMAS thanks the following donors for their generous support through the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund (VTF) for Assistance in Mine Action in Sudan during the year 2021. The United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), Japan, South Korea, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs/Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA). UNMAS also thanks the UN Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS) for its contribution to an inter-agency programme in South Kordofan; to the Government of Switzerland for the provision of in-kind personnel; and to the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) for the continued support since June 2020. In addition, in 2021, the Government of Sudan allocated 500k to the mine action sector.
For 2022, UNMAS will require more funding to provide urgent humanitarian mine action activities in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states and ERW response in Darfur. Increased financing is critical to achieve mine free Sudan.
Data as of January 2022