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 2022, the results of mine action efforts undertaken in the region were as follows:
137.76 km2 of dangerous areas have been released for productive use.
38,529 km of roads have been verified or cleared.
10,398 anti-personnel mines, 3,349 anti-tank mines, and 173,988 unexploded ordnance have been found and destroyed.
5 million people received explosive ordnance risk education (EORE).
1,280 mine victims received assistance.
UNMAS has supported the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) since January 2021, providing mine action services as part of the mission’s mandate. Established in June 2020, UNITAMS aims to support Sudan’s democratic transition and comprehensive peace process, and UNMAS is responsible for the mine action activities stipulated in the strategic objective (iii) Assist peacebuilding, civilian protection and rule of law, in particular in Darfur and the Two Areas.
In addition, UNMAS in Sudan supports the 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 2027, and to provide humanitarian mine action. UNMAS in Sudan 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. With the operational closure of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) in 2020, UNMAS took over responsibility for the ERW response in Darfur from the Ordnance Disposal Office (ODO) of UNAMID.
UNMAS supports UNITAMS’s mandate to assist peacebuilding and civilian protection through land release operations and the Government of Sudan in its efforts to achieve Ottawa Treaty compliance and dispose of other explosive hazards. In order to promote the safe and dignified return of the displaced people and to provide secure access to the humanitarian community for the delivery of life-saving aid, UNMAS collaborates with NMAC to release land through survey and clearing operations in local communities. As of 31 December 2022, 137.76 km2 (80.1%) out of the recorded 171.9 km2 of contaminated land has been released.
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 explosive ordnance (EO) risk education to populations living with the threat of explosive ordnance and to humanitarian workers. UNMAS also supports victims of EO and other persons with disabilities through data collection, advocacy, and provision of support. As of 31 December 2022, 2,572 mine/ERW victims were registered in the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA). The actual number of victims, however, is likely to be much higher.
UNMAS Sudan strengthens the national capacity of mine action interventions by providing 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. The deadline for the country to complete its Article 5 obligation of removing all anti-personnel mines from its territory is April 2027.
UNMAS thanks the following donors for their generous support through the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund (VTF) for assisting Mine Action in Sudan during the year 2022: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs/Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA), the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), the Government of Japan, and the Republic of Korea.
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 and the Government of Italy for the provision of in-kind personnel; and to the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) for its continued support since June 2020. In addition, in 2022, the Government of Sudan allocated 500k to the mine action sector.
These funds and in-kind support are, however, only confirmed for 2023 alone. In order to achieve a mine-free Sudan by April 2027 as obligated by the Ottawa Convention, UNMAS estimates USD 30 million is required in the next five years.
Data as of January 2023