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SUDAN: Agencies call for increased mine action

NAIROBI, 4 April 2007 (IRIN) - United Nations agencies involved in mine action in Sudan on Wednesday called for greater efforts to clear landmines in the country and increase people's awareness of the dangers posed by the explosives, which killed or maimed more than 2,000 people in the south in the past five years.

"It is imperative that we all renew our commitment to mine clearance, increasing public awareness and education about the dangers of landmines and ERW [explosive remnants of war] and ensuring that those affected by landmines are provided with appropriate assistance," said Jim Pansegrouw, director of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), speaking on World Mine Action Day on behalf of UNMAS, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Development Programme.

The agencies said landmines - a legacy of decades of civil war, especially in southern Sudan - continued to hamper delivery of humanitarian aid, the safe return of refugees and internally displaced persons, and slowed down the implementation of humanitarian and development projects.

Both the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army used landmines in the 1983-2005 civil war, which claimed two million lives in southern Sudan. The region is still riddled with mines placed by the the two groups.

The UN Mine Action Office in Sudan said it had records for more than 1,100 dangerous areas throughout the country where mines had to be cleared - especially in the south, central and eastern regions. More roads also needed to be surveyed and cleared.

The conflict in the western region of Darfur posed an additional threat of explosive remnants of war, the agencies added.

Ongoing mine-clearance efforts in Sudan have resulted in the removal of explosives from 11 million sqm of land, while 12,000km of roads have been re-opened after assessment. About 1,800km of road have been cleared of mines and certified safe for use; 2,921 anti-personnel mines and 1,309 anti-tank mines have been destroyed.

More than one million people have received mine-risk awareness instruction aimed at improving their knowledge of how to reduce the risk of injury, the agencies said. The awareness effort was coordinated by UNICEF and carried out in partnership with national mine-action agencies, including the National Mine Action Authority, the South Sudan De-mining Commission and several national and international organisations.

Globally, landmines and explosive remnants of war kill or injure between 15,000 and 20,000 people, even decades after conflict has ended.

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Copyright © IRIN 2007
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.



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