On 10 December, Sudan witnessed a historic benchmark with the announcement of Kulbus locality of West Darfur state as free of known Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) as a result of close cooperation between UNAMID and the Government of Sudan. “The achievement showcased the government’s commitment toward lasting peace in Darfur, and its commitment toward the goal of Sudan to become free of landmines and ERW,” said Secretary General, Lt. Gen Gamal Omer.
West Darfur along with four other Darfuri states was severely affected by internal armed conflict since 2003, which left large amounts of unexploded ordnance in the region.
UNAMID Ordnance Disposal Chief Jeffrey McMurdo reported that in an operation that began in late 2017, the National Mine Action Centre and the UNAMID Ordnance Disposal Office worked together to assess 139 villages in Kulbus locality. A total of 478 ERW were found and destroyed. 220 items of small arms ammunition were also destroyed.
UNAMID Deputy Joint Special Representative Anita Kiki Gbeho noted that although peace agreements may be signed, for communities real peace is not achieved until the consequences of war - unexploded ordnance - are no longer a risk. She further stated, "Now that Kulbus is free of explosive remnants of war, the communities in the locality should commit to stop further conflict. This should be the final clearance. Kulbus should be an example for other localities in Darfur."
Mr. Takuto Kubo, UNMAS Headquarters Planning Officer who attend the ceremony spoke of the implications the clearance of ERW has for the transition from conflict to peace. "The clearance of ERW in Kulbus directly helps to build peace. And when peace comes, it makes possible the reconstruction and development activities that follow."
The event was the third of this kind after Kereniek and Foro Baranga localities became ERW free in February 2018 and April 2017. ODO clearance teams are currently operating in Jebel Moon locality, West Darfur. ODO operates in all five states of Darfur.
Notable participants included the Governor of West Darfur, Secretary of General of Sudan Ministry of Defence, Deputy Joint Special Representative of UNAMID, UNMAS HQ Deputy Chief of Programme, Programme Manager of the Ordnance Disposal’s Office of UNAMID, National Mine Action Center Director and the representatives from embassies of Italy and the USA.