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Last Updated: 26 November 2013

Mine Action

Contamination and Impact

Mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) contamination in the Republic of the Sudan is primarily the result of more than 20 years of civil war that ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on 9 January 2005 which ultimately led to the independence of South Sudan in July 2011.[1] Recent armed violence, including the use of antivehicle mines in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and the Abyei region, has added to existing ERW contamination.[2]


As of May 2013, 257 suspected hazardous and contaminated areas covering 38km2 remained in 10 of the 18 states that comprise Sudan. The 10 states are: Blue Nile, Central/East/North/South/West Darfur, Gadaref, Kassala, Red Sea, and South Kordofan. Almost 80% of the suspected and confirmed contaminated areas are located in Blue Nile, South Kordofan, and Kassala; both Blue Nile and South Kordofan are inaccessible because of ongoing conflict. Of the 10 states, only Blue Nile, Kassala, and South Kordofan have confirmed mined areas, totaling 63.[3]

Contamination in Sudan as of May 2013[4]


Dangerous areas

Confirmed Mined areas



South Kordofan










Blue Nile










Red Sea





Central Darfur





East Darfur





West Darfur





North Darfur





South Darfur










Note: A minefield is an area contaminated with antipersonnel mines or antivehicle mines with a clearly defined polygon. The polygon of minefields is developed as a result of technical survey. SHA refers to an area suspected of having a mine/ERW hazard. An SHA can be identified by an impact survey, other form of national survey, or a claim of presence of explosive hazards. A dangerous area refers to an area suspected to contain mines/ERW that is reported as a result of mine accident/ERW investigation by mine risk education teams, local population, or military personnel.[5]

Additionally, non-state armed groups operating in White Nile state (Sudan) and Upper Nile state (South Sudan) have been accused of using landmines in these states. Landmines in the border states threaten the lives of pastoralists, farmers, and traders who regularly cross the border as they practice their livelihoods.[6]

Cluster munition remnants

In June 2011, the UN Mine Action Office (UNMAO) reported there were nine remaining areas thought to be contaminated with unexploded submunitions, while 81 areas had been released.[7] In April 2012, Sudan’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva stated it had never used cluster munitions.[8] The National Mine Action Center (NMAC) has not provided updated information on the reported nine open areas contaminated with cluster munition remnants.

No. of cluster munition-contaminated areas in Sudan as of June 2011[9]









South Kordofan




Blue Nile




Northern Darfur




Southern Darfur








In May 2012, a cluster bomb was reportedly discovered in the village of Angolo in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan.[10] The government of Sudan has denied using cluster munitions in South Kordofan.[11]

Other explosive remnants of war

In the Darfur region, ERW pose a serious threat to civilians, to peacekeepers from the African Union/UN Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID), and to the delivery of humanitarian aid. ERW in Darfur includes air-delivered bombs, rockets, artillery and rifle projectiles, mortars, and grenades.[12]

Mine Action Program

Key institutions and operators


Situation on 1 January 2013

National Mine Action Authority

Sudan NMAA

Mine action center


International demining operators

The Development Initiative (TDI); Darfur only

National demining operators

National Demining Units, JASMAR, Friends of Peace and Development Organization (FPDO)

In 2005, UN Security Council Resolution 1590 and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement set out the legal framework to establish UNMAO to coordinate, facilitate, accredit, and conduct quality assurance (QA) of all mine action activities in Sudan, including support to the development of NMAC through June 2011.[13]

The NMAA was established by Presidential Decree No. 299 on 24 December 2005. Following the decree, the National Mine Action Policy Framework was developed and then approved by the High National Mine Action Committee and passed by the council of ministers of the Government of National Unity on 6 August 2006.[14]

On 9 January 2011, South Sudan voted for independence.[15] As a result, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) ended when South Sudan became a recognized State in July 2011, which also resulted in the closing of UNMAO.

Since then, NMAC coordinates all mine clearance activities, including accreditation and certification of mine clearance agencies.[16] At the request of the government of Sudan, the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has continued providing assistance to mine action in Sudan through technical support to NMAC.[17] UNMAS technical advisors assist in risk education, victim assistance, survey and clearance operations, data and information management, and resource mobilization. UNMAS focuses on coordination, and technical advice and assistance to the national mine action authorities, UN entities, and partners. UNMAS serves as the UN focal point and cluster/sector lead while facilitating resource mobilization and support to implementation. UNMAS support in Sudan is received through the Voluntary Trust Fund.[18]

In Darfur, under the umbrella of UNAMID, the Ordnance Disposal Office (ODO) works in direct support of UNAMID priorities. ODO comprises 13 international staff and 38 national staff, while there are 15 international staff and 73 national staff working for TDI. There are sub-offices in North, South, and West Darfur states. The Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, signed between the Sudanese government and the formerly-armed rebel group known as the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), created the states of Zallingei and El Daen in Darfur in March 2012, raising the number of states in Darfur to five. Subsequently, ODO established offices in Zallingei and El Daen. UNAMID contracted TDI in 2012 to assess, survey, mark/identify, and clear contaminated areas with six multi-tasking clearance teams in all five states in Darfur. TDI replaced Mine Tech International. The extent of TDI activities is dependent on the availability of security forces and on receiving permission from the government of Sudan and from the UN Special Representative for Political Affairs.[19] Darfur mine action is funded completely through assessed peacekeeping funds for UNAMID.

In 2011, fighting in Abyei between Sudan and South Sudan over the disputed border area caused the complete destruction of the town of Abyei and surrounding villages, the displacement of over 100,000 people, and additional mine and UXO contamination.[20] In response, the UN Security Council authorized a UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) “to monitor and verify the redeployment of any Sudan Armed Forces, Sudan People’s Liberation Army or its successor from the Abyei area” just prior to South Sudan formally declaring its independence from Sudan in July 2011. UNISFA was also mandated to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and provide security to the oil industry’s infrastructure in coordination with the local police. The resolution, however, did not include a mandate for peacekeepers to conduct mine clearance operations, as did the UNMIS mandate that ended in July 2011.[21] In November 2012, Security Council Resolution 2075 expanded the UNMAS role to include identification and clearance of mines in the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone. UNMAS enables the work of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism along the 2,100km international border between South Sudan and Sudan. It also provides training to UN and national observers and facilitates access on the ground by assessing and clearing priority areas and routes.[22] In May 2013, the UN Security Council increased the number of peacekeepers in Abyei and noted concern in the resolution that a residual landmine and ERW problem in Abyei hampered the return of displaced people.[23]

In 2011, fighting began in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states amid disputes over oil exports and payments, border demarcation, and citizenship rights. International access to the two states is very limited.[24]

Two international mine clearance NGOs have closed down their operations because they faced substantial government administrative restrictions that impeded their operations.[25] Dan Church Aid (DCA) closed its operations in 2012.[26] In June 2012, the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) ordered Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and six other NGOs that provide humanitarian aid to leave Kassala, Gadaref, and Red Seastates in eastern Sudan.[27] Following months of negotiations with the HAC and donors, MAG decided to close its operations in Sudan and left in early 2013.[28]

In May 2013, there were three national operators comprising 11 clearance teams, including nine teams from National Demining Units, one team from FPDO, and one team from JASMAR that NMAC planned to deploy to the eastern states where MAG and other international NGOs were ordered to stop working. NMAC also planned to deploy national teams to South Kordofan and Blue Nile stateswhen security improved.[29]

Land Release

In 2012, Sudan cleared some 0.55km2 of mined areas and 0.62km2 of battle area.[30] This pales in comparison to the 2010–2011 period when annual land release averaged 25km2. The low output is attributed to the loss of funding from assessed peacekeeping funds when the mandate for UNMIS ended in July 2011 at South Sudan’s independence and in 2012 when MAG and DCA closed their operations as described above.[31]

In May 2013, Sudan reported it had released 7.4km2 of contaminated area since January: 6.3km2 (84%) released through survey; 672,050m2 through battle area clearance (BAC); 242,565m2 cancelled by technical survey; and 202,211m2 of mined area released through clearance. Most of the land release occurred in Kassala state.[32]

In June 2013, Sudan reported they planned to cancel 14.3km2 through non-technical survey and release 23.7km2 through technical survey and clearance by 2019.[33]

Five-year summary of land release[34]


Mined area cleared (km2)

Battle area cleared (km2)

Released by survey (km2)

Total area released (km2)































Mine clearance in 2012[35]

Sudan cleared more than 0.55km2 of mined areas in 2012, with the destruction of 451 antipersonnel mines and 87 antivehicle mines. Clearance has not been disaggregated between the different operators.

Since 2005, in Darfur, the ODO has achieved the following:[36]

1.      3,955 UXOs destroyed, as well as four antipersonnel and four antivehicle mines;

2.      3,051km2 general mine assessment surveyed;

3.      21,149km of road assessment;

4.      438,618km2 of sub-surface BAC;

5.      559km2 of surface BAC and visual search; and

6.      1,621 villages assessed.

In Abyei, UNMAS has achieved the following:

·         assessed over 10 million square meters in Abyei and 25 nearby villages;

·         recovered over 838 ERW items;

·         surveyed more than 309km of roads;

·         verified and cleared 32km of road while assessing another 229km of routes used by UNISFA;

·         constructed and marked helicopter landing sites in Todach, Tajalei, and Noong; and

·         cleared the site of the 20 March 2012 mine incident which destroyed a UNISFA truck near Tajalei.[37]

Mine clearance has had a major impact on Sudan. It has opened land for farming and animal grazing as well as 30,000km of roads connecting towns and cities, allowing commerce to flourish. Development has followed mine clearance as houses, schools, and hospitals have been constructed.[38]

Compliance with Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty

In accordance with Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty, Sudan is required to destroy all antipersonnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but not later than 1 April 2014.

At the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in Geneva in June 2011, Sudan stated it was in a good position to be mine impact free by April 2014 and to clear the remaining 295 hazardous areas by the deadline if funding, approximately US$68 million, was available.[39] At the meetings in May 2012, Sudan said it needed funding to support 30 clearance teams “soon” to meet its Article 5 deadline, or it would have to request an extension.[40] In March 2013, Sudan submitted a request to extend its deadline until 2019, citing instability and lack of access in South Kordofan and Blue Nile as the primary reason.[41]

It is also understood by stakeholders that the primary reason that Sudan did not meet its 10-year deadline is that, for most of those years, clearing mined roads and areas in what is now South Sudan was the priority under the CPA. Although Sudan benefited from the presence of UNMIS and from assessed funds for mine action from the peacekeeping operations, most of the money was spent clearing mines in present-day South Sudan.[42]

The government of Sudan has pledged $1.3 million per year for equipment, mine clearance, and NMAC operations in 2013.[43] The main risk involves access and security in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, as well as new unknown contamination in these two states as the result of conflict since 2011. Sudan plans to clear all the contaminated areas in the other states before 2016 when it is planned to begin clearance in Kordofan and Blue Nile.[44]

Clearance of cluster munition-contaminated areas in 2012

NMAA does not distinguish between clearance of different types of ERW in its reporting and so is unable to confirm how much land was cleared of cluster munition remnants in 2011 or 2012, or how many submunitions were destroyed.

Battle area clearance in 2012

In 2012, Sudan conducted 0.62km2 of BAC, most of it in Kassala and Red Sea states.[45]

Quality management[46]

NMAC is responsible for prioritizing, tasking, and post-clearance quality assurance (QA). QA teams are an integral part of the monitoring, accreditation, and license testing for all operators. They are based in sub-offices in Kassala, Damazeen, Kadugli, and Khartoum.

The QA teams are responsible for monitoring all humanitarian demining operations in the states they cover. Post-clearance monitoring includes sampling based on International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) and National Mine Action Standards (NMAS). QA teams conduct a yearly inspection to ensure that each operator’s standard operating procedures, equipment, employee insurance, and employment contracts are up to date and in accordance with NMAS and in compliance with IMAS.


[2] Human Rights Watch, “Under Siege: Indiscriminate Bombing and Abuses in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States,” 6 December 2012; “Unexploded Ordnance Kill 13 People in South Kordofan,” All Africa, 10 August 2013; and UN, “UNMAS Annual Report 2012,” New York, August 2013, p. 10.

[3] National Mine Action Center (NMAC), “IMSMA Monthly Report May 2013,” p. 2; and Sudan response to questions received from Analysing Group on Sudan Extension request to APMBC Article 5 deadline, 22 May 2013.

[4] NMAC, “IMSMA Monthly Report May 2013,” p. 2.

[5] Sudan response to questions received from Analysing Group on Sudan Extension request to APMBC Article 5 deadline, 22 May 2013.

[7] The locations are based on a review of cluster munition sites in the UNMAO database by the Monitor.

[8] Statement of Sudan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meeting, Geneva, 19 April 2012.

[9] Email from Mohamed Kabir, UNMAO, 27 June 2011.

[10] Aris Roussinos, “In a Sudanese field, cluster bomb evidence proves just how deadly this war has become,” Independent, 24 May 2012; and “Cluster Bomb-Sudan,” Journeyman.TV, May 2012.

[11]Sudan denies use of cluster bombs,” United Press International, 28 May 2012.

[12] UNMAS, “About UNMAS in Darfur,” undated.

[13] Republic of Sudan, “Sudan Mine Action Programme Transition Plan,” UNMAO, revised April 2010, p. 5.

[15] BBC, “South Sudan referendum: 99% vote for independence,” 30 January 2011, www.bbc.co.uk.

[16] NMAC, “Mine Clearance” and “Mine Risk Education,” undated.

[17] NMAC, “UNMAS Technical Support,” undated.

[18] UNMAS, “About UNMAS in Sudan,” undated.

[19] UNMAS, “About UNMAS in Darfur,” undated.

[20] UN, “UNMAS Annual Report 2012,” New York, August 2013, p. 10.

[21] UN Interim Security Force for Abyei, UNISFA Mandate, undated.

[22] UN, “UNMAS Annual Report 2012,” New York, August 2013, p. 10.

[23] UN Security Council Resolution 2104, S/RES/2104 (2013), 29 May 2013.

[24] David Smith, “South Sudan slides towards destitution amid border conflict with Sudan,Guardian, 17 May 2012; and UN, “UNMAS Annual Report 2012,” New York, August 2013, p. 23.

[26] DCA, “Previous Programmes: Sudan,” undated.

[27] News24, “Sudan causes frustration among NGOs,” 13 June 2012.

[29] Statement of Sudan, Standing Committee Meeting on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 27 May 2013.

[32] NMAC, “IMSMA Monthly Report May 2013,” p. 2.

[33] Sudan response to questions received from Analysing Group on Sudan Extension request to APMBC Article 5 deadline, 22 May 2013.

[34] See Landmine Monitor reports 2008–2011; and ICBL-CMC, “Country Profile: Sudan: Mine Action,” 17 December 2012.

[36] UNMAS, “About UNMAS in Darfur,” undated.

[37] UN, “UNMAS Annual Report 2012,” New York, August 2013, p. 10.

[39] Statement of Sudan, Standing Committee Meeting on Mine Clearance, Geneva, 22 May 2012.

[40] Ibid.

[43] Sudan response to questions received from Analysing Group on Sudan Extension request to APMBC Article 5 deadline, 22 May 2013.

[45] Ibid; and NMAC, “IMSMA Monthly Report July 2012.”