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Country Reports
SUDAN, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

Sudan is mine-affected but humanitarian mine action efforts are severely handicapped by the country’s continuing 16-year old civil war. Despite the unnerving situation, efforts are on-going both to remove landmines and to spread mine awareness among the civilian population. The main rebel group is the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), whose armed forces are known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). Both the SPLM/A, which controls an area as large as France in southern and eastern Sudan, and the Government of Sudan (GOS), based in Khartoum, have asked for international assistance in the clearance of landmines. The SPLM/A has gone one step further to invite non-governmental organizations into the areas it controls to begin mine clearance.[1] But only a tiny fraction of the Sudan—the largest nation in Africa—has been cleared.

Sudan’s Minister of External Relations, Ali Othman Mohamed Taha, signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 4 December 1997, and, in a statement to the signing ceremony, he said that “Sudan, like many African countries, suffered from the scourge of landmines. While landmines have been planted in the North Western corner of our country during the Second World War, Southern Sudan experienced them during the prolonged civil war since independence. They threaten the civilians and impede economic development and prosperity.”[2]

The Sudan government participated in the Ottawa Process, attending the Vienna and Bonn preparatory meetings, endorsing the Brussels Declaration and attending the Oslo negotiations as a full participant. The GOS also voted in favor of the key 1996, 1997 and 1998 UN General Assembly resolutions on landmines. Sudan government has not yet ratified the Mine Ban Treaty.

Production, Transfer and Stockpiling

Two recent reports have shed light on Sudan’s landmine problem: an assessment report by the United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs Mine Clearance and Policy Unit dated August 1997 and an August 1998 report by the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch, Sudan: Global Trade, Local Conflict.[3]

The Sudanese government and the SPLA have never been known to manufacture antipersonnel landmines. But both sides have considerable knowledge in improvisation techniques.[4] Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) may be assembled using cheap components such as “two wooden blades with a hinge, set over a detonator and explosive.”[5] IEDs are also prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty.

The GOS and the SPLA have obtained antipersonnel mines from a variety of different sources. The following information on mines found in Sudan gives an indication of the various suppliers. The UN assessment team listed nineteen types of antipersonnel mines found in Sudan:

- PRB M409 plastic-bodied blast mine (Belgium);

- Type 69 bounding fragmentation mine (China);

- Type 58, a copy of the Soviet PMN blast mine (China);

- Type 72 plastic blast mine (China);

- T/79, a copy of the Italian scatterable or hand emplaced mine (Egypt);

- No 4 blast mine (Israel);

- MAUS (Italy);

- Valmara 69 bounding fragmentation mine (Italy);

- VS-Mk2 plastic scatterable or hand emplaced mine (Italy);

- VS-T Illumination alarm mine (Italy);

- M14 plastic-bodied blast mine (U.S.);

- M16 (U.S.);

- OZM-3 bounding fragmentation mine (USSR);

- OZM-4 bounding mine (USSR);

- PMD-6M wooden box or “shu” mine (USSR);

- PMD-7 wooden box mine (USSR);

- PMN blast mine (USSR);

- POMZ-2 fragmentation stake mine (USSR);

- POMZ-2M fragmentation stake mine (USSR).[6]

Human Rights Watch identified ten types of antipersonnel mines allegedly captured by the SPLA from the Sudan government. They include the mines already identified by the UN assessment plus the TS-50, a small, round, plastic antipersonnel mine with rubber pressure cap manufactured by Italy.[7]

The current size and composition of the AP mine stockpiles of the GOS and the SPLM/A are not known. It is unknown if the GOS has started destroying stockpiled antipersonnel landmines as required by the treaty. Operation Save Innocent Lives (OSIL-Sudan), the SPLA/M’s mine action NGO, notes that “both [sides] have stockpiles and there is no way to ascertain figures even though it is important to note that the quantity of landmines in the Sudan can provide conflict in Africa for the coming decade.”[8]

The GOS has provided rebel groups fighting many of its neighboring governments with antipersonnel landmines as well as antitank mines. These have included the Eritrean rebel group, Eritrean Islamic Jihad, which has used antitank mines on civilian roads, and the Ugandan rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army.[9] (See Eritrea country report for details on supply to EIJ). It is unclear if any transfers have taken place since the GOS signed the ban treaty in December 1997.


The UN assessment described the conflict in southern Sudan as “a classic guerrilla war in which the government holds towns and cities and the insurgent forces control the countryside.”[10] In this type of warfare, the August 1997 UN report stated “the government uses landmines to protect its garrison towns, and to interdict the movement of insurgent supplies and forces. On the other side, the guerrillas use landmines to fix government forces in the towns, and to interdict their supply lines. Both sides also reportedly continue to use landmines to terrorize local populations in order to diminish their support for the opposite side.”[11]

In early 1995, there was an NGO conference with senior SPLA officers in New Cush where they discussed landmines and considered whether they were of any strategic or practical importance.[12] In 1996, the SPLA “declared a unilateral moratorium on the use of landmines provided that there is a significant reciprocation on the side of GOS.”[13] The SPLA considered this initiative to be “pro-ban” and also created Operation Save Innocent Lives (OSIL-Sudan) in part to address the issue of landmines and UXO in the areas under their control.[14]

In March 1999, the GOS and the SPLM/A pledged not to use mines, although details on this agreement secured by Olara Otunnu, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, are not available.[15] It is unclear if Sudan has used antipersonnel mines since it signed the ban treaty in December 1997. The August 1997 UN report stated, “Both sides also reportedly continue to use landmines....” In February 1999, at a major regional conference on landmines, a representative of the government of Sudan’s armed forces described how “GOS forces plant mine fields in accordance to accepted rules such as sketch maps and registration of mined areas.”[16]

Landmine Problem

The true extent of Sudan’s landmine problem remains unknown as there has been no in-depth, country-wide survey of the problem. Several attempts have been made, however, to assess the problem. On 25 January 1997, the GOS submitted a formal request to the United Nations, following discussions held in New York, with the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs (UNDHA), for assistance in dealing with its landmine problem.[17] The UN assessment team analyzed several previous assessments of Sudan’s landmine problem before concluding that the most credible estimate of the number of landmines in Sudan is “in the range of 500,000 to 2 million landmines, with the vast majority of those located in southern Sudan.”[18] The Sudanese government states that two to three million landmines and UXO cover some 800,000 quare kilometers or 32 percent of the country.[19] It claims there are 42 types of mines and explosive ordnance from 14 countries.[20]

According to the U.S. Department of State, the desert of northern Sudan was mined during World War Two and more “recently in new conflicts along the northwestern border with Libya and eastern border with Eritrea.”[21] Mines in the sparsely populated northwest occasionally affect livestock and smugglers.[22]

The southern regions of Equatoria, Bahr El Ghazal, and Upper Nile, the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan in central Sudan, and the eastern region, where there has been fighting since 1995, are all mine-affected. Most roads in the southern region are mined, and areas around towns such as Yei, Juba, Torit, Kapoeta and the Ugandan border town of Kaya, are reported mined.[23] Earlier in the conflict, antitank mine use was more prevalent than antipersonnel mine use and when roads were mined, the solution was not to clear them but to “open new roads.”[24] Mined roads have inhibited and increased the cost of delivery of humanitarian aid as it must be delivered by air.[25]

While both sides to the conflict told UN Representative Otunnu that they “mapped” areas where they planted mines, it seems highly unlikely that comprehensive maps or records have been kept by either side.[26] OSIL-Sudan has a few maps of minefields from both sides but most were not drawn to scale.[27] Very, very few mined areas are marked and fenced.

Mine Clearance

The UN assessment team recommended that, ”... until there is peace and stability, large scale mine clearance should not be undertaken” in Sudan but it did outline a number of interim measures that could be taken including mine awareness training, safety training courses for all UN and NGO staff working in the south, rehabilitation of the medical system in southern Sudan, preparations and preparatory planning for a survey as soon as a cease fire of peace agreement is signed, designated mine action liaison officers in the UN Humanitarian Coordination Unit in Khartoum and in UNICEF - OLS Southern Sector in Nairobi/Lokichoggio, and finally, stigmatization of the continuing use of landmines in Sudan.[28]

Mine action efforts in government-controlled areas are carried out by the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) and the Sudanese army is responsible for mine clearance. A mine action programme plan has been drawn up but implementation is hindered by lack of resources and funding.[29]

On the SPLA side, humanitarian affairs are the responsibility of the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association (SRRA), which created Operation Save Innocent Lives (OSIL) to deal with the landmine problem, as outlined in its mine action programme planning.[30]

While many international and UN agencies and local NGOs provide humanitarian relief and limited development assistance in southern Sudan under the umbrella of Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS), mine action assistance is scarce and relatively recent. Mine action efforts by OSIL-Sudan in SPLA-controlled areas started in September 1997, supported by a consortium of international and non-governmental organizations including UNICEF/Operation Lifeline Sudan, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Christian Church Aid, DanChurch Aid, Norwegian Church Aid, Catholic Relief Services, Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association, Church Ecumenical Action in Sudan, New Sudan Council of Churches, and the All African Conference of Churches.[31] It received start-up funding from UNICEF/OLS, Christian Aid, DanChurch Aid and the ICRC, in the amounts of U.S. $149,000 for mine clearance and U.S. $150,000 for mine awareness.[32]

Christian Aid took up the challenge of providing mine action in southern Sudan when it concluded that “international bodies were unwilling to address the problem due to the ongoing conflict,” according to Dan Collison, its programme officer for the Horn of Africa.[33] Collison described Christian Aid’s contribution as “a worthwhile investment.”[34]

Since 15 September 1997, OSIL-Sudan’s mine clearance programme claims to have located and destroyed: 216 antitank mines on 236 miles of roads; 1,963 antipersonnel mines around SPLM/A-controlled towns and villages; 1,219 cluster bombs around Yei town and surrounding villages; and 19,521 pieces of other UXOs.[35] OSIL-Sudan has cleared or declared mine free many areas of agricultural land in Yei and Kajo Keji county.[36] OSIL-Sudan mine clearance of the Mvolo-Rumbek road is expected to facilitate land-delivered World Food Programme relief services to Bahr El Ghazal.[37]

OSIL-Sudan’s mine action programme has its operational headquarters in Yei, and an office in Nairobi, Kenya. The programme includes both mine clearance, mine clearance training and mine awareness education. The mine clearance component is carried out by demobilized SPLA military personnel in two demining teams consisting of twelve personnel grouped. The mine awareness team numbers ten, five of whom are women, with women comprising most of the leadership. OSIL-Sudan mine action programme personnel received training from two Mines Advisory Group (MAG) consultants, using funds from Christian Church Aid and DanChurch Aid.[38]

OSIL-Sudan’s director, Aleu Ayieny Aleu, is proud that the OSIL clearance program is cheap compared to other country demining efforts. OSIL clearance costs an estimated U.S. $9 per mine, according to Aleu.[39] OSIL’s workers are not insured and the program does not use highly paid expatriates.[40] Aleu is concerned, however, that more funding be given to the program: “I laid landmines myself. I am proud that I am now clearing them. Why should they [donors] wait for peace? The mines will remain in the ground.”[41]

Mine Awareness

The need for mine awareness education in Sudan is imperative due to the severity of the landmine problem. Mine awareness programs in government-controlled areas are the responsibility of the Humanitarian Aid Commission. The Sudanese Red Crescent and Sudanese NGOs in Khartoum grouped under the umbrella of the Sudan Council of Voluntary Agencies (SCOVA) are also active in the Sudan Campaign to Ban Landmines (SCBL) and in more general mine awareness activities. The GOS also established the Disaster Management and Refugees Studies Institute (DIMARSI) to train trainers on mine awareness in conflict zones in Sudan.[42] UNICEF supports OSIL-Sudan’s mine risk education activities in rebel areas by providing training, equipment and technical support. The OSIL program focuses on children and returning refugees and targets an estimated 300,000 people.[43]

Landmine casualties

No one knows how many casualties there have been due to landmines in Sudan. The government of Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission estimates that Sudan has 700,000 amputees resulting from mine accidents but to date this number has not been verified.[44] The International Committee of the Red Cross reported only 5,000 amputees registered in their hospitals, according to OSIL-Sudan.[45] The UN assessment team claimed it “was struck by the small number of landmine casualties reported, and the even smaller number receiving assistance at the prosthetic centres in Khartoum, Juba, and Lokichoggio.”[46] The assessment concluded that “very few landmine victims survive to make it to hospital” due to the facts that “travel in the area is so difficult, and mechanized transportation so scarce, that non-military victims generally tend to have to walk as much as a hundred miles to the nearest hospital.”[47]

Landmine Survivor Assistance

While the government of Sudan provides its military personnel with medical care, civilian medical facilities and hospitals in government-controlled areas usually lack basic equipment, staff and resources. A former-ICRC prosthetic clinic in Khartoum now run by the GOS produces 700 to 800 ICRC standard prosthetics per year, and 400 orthotics.[48] Satellite workshops in southern Sudan government towns of Juba and Wau assemble the ICRC standard prosthetic devices, fit them and provide physical therapy. Basic infrastructure and public services in southern Sudan are practically non-existent. Some examples of the few medical facilities follow but this list is not comprehensive.

Norwegian People’s Aid operates four hospitals in SPLA-held locations of Yei, Chukum, Labone and Nimule in rebel-held southern Sudan. The hospital in Yei, which treats landmine victims, has been deliberately targeted by GOS planes which bombed it twelve times in 1998 and to date, five times in 1999, inflicting substantial damage and resulting in many injured and dead. On 4 March 1999, GOS bombing damaged the operating theater and maternity ward and forced the hospital to close temporarily.[49] NPA also runs emergency mobile medical units and it offers vocational skills training and small community-based programs in Chukum and Yei. NPA provides combined food relief and agriculture assistance in southern Sudan (Eastern Equatoria, Western Equatoria, Bahr El-Gazhal).[50]

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) operates a hospital in Kajo Keiji on the Sudanese side of the border with Uganda in Equatoria, southern Sudan which treats landmine victims. On 13 January 1999, the GOS dropped five bombs on the hospital, destroying the immunization block and extensively damaging the surgical and outpatient departments.[51] In Juba, the International Committee of the Red Cross has resumed activities at the Juba Teaching Hospital in August 1998 after a period of absence.[52] The ICRC also treats patients, including many mine victims, at the hospital in Lokichokio, Kenya. The Sudan Evangelical Mission (SEM) has attempted to provide prosthetic support by bring technicians from the Nairobi-based Jaipur Foot Project to southern Sudan to assess the needs of amputees.[53] The Church Ecumenical Action in Sudan (CEAS) assists in rehabilitation efforts in southern Sudan focusing on self-sufficiency to improve the livelihoods of the most vulnerable people.[54]

Psychological and social support facilities for mine victims are inadequate, if available at all in southern Sudan. Some counseling and social support services are available at the ICRC facilities at Lokichogio and at the UNHCR refugee camp at Kakuma, Kenya, managed by the Lutheran World Federation and the International Rescue Committee.


[1]The SPLM/A commits itself to unilateral demining effort in the areas under its control and commissions the [non-governmental organization] Operation Save Innocent Lives - Sudan (OSIL-Sudan) ... to demine the liberated areas of New Sudan and to help put an end this scourge,” in Sudan People’s Liberation Army, “Resolution on problem posed by proliferation of anti personnel mines in liberated parts of New Sudan,” Statement signed by Commander Salva Khr Mayardit, Deputy Chair, NLC/NEC (SPLM) and SPLA Chief of Genearl Staff, New Kush-Himan, 1 November 1996.

[2]Statement to the Signing Ceremony by His Excellency, Ali Othman Mohomed Taha, Minister of External Relations, Ottawa, 4 December 1997.

[3]United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs: Mine Clearance Policy Unit, The Landmine Situation in Sudan Assessment Mission Report, August 1997; and Human Rights Watch, Sudan: Global Trade, Local Impact: Arms Transfers to all Sides in the Civil War in Sudan, New York: Human Rights Watch, August 1998.

[4]Operation Save Innocent Lives (OSIL-Sudan/Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association), Nairobi-Kenya, “Landmine Information-Sudan,” signed by Aleu Ayieny Aleu, Director, OSIL-Sudan, dated 8-1-1999 (8 January 1999), p. 2.

[5]LM Researcher interview with Patrick Kaiuki Muiruri, chief cameraman, Reuters Television, Nairobi, 4 January 1999.

[6]“ANNEX F: Specifications of Landmines found in Sudan,” in UN/DHA/MCPU, Sudan Assessment Mission Report - Annexes, August 1997.

[7]The antipersonnel mines identified by HRW were: PMD-6M (Russia); No 4 (Iran); PMN (Russia, China or Iraq); M-14 (U.S.); Type 72 (China and South Africa); Type 69 (China); POMZ -2M (Russia, China, former East Germany, North Korea); VS-T (Italy); MAUS (Italy), and the TS-50 (Italy), in HRW, Sudan: Global Trade, Local Impact, p. 18.

[8]OSIL-Sudan/SRRA, “Landmine Information-Sudan,” p. 3.

[9]HRW, Sudan: Global Trade, Local Impact, August 1998, p. 39 and p. 40.

[10]UN/DHA/MCPA, Sudan Assessment Mission Report, p. 7.


[12] HRW interview with Aleu Ayieny Aleu, Director, Operation Save Innocent Lives (OSIL)-Sudan, Nairobi, 15 February 1999.

[13] OSIL-Sudan/SRRA, “Landmine Information-Sudan,” p. 1.

[14] Ibid.

[15]Otunnu was reported to have secured a ban on use of landmines in the south of the country by both parties to the conflict. See “Sudan’s Warring Parties Agree to Stop Using Landmines,” Reuters, Nairobi, 11 March 1999.

[16]Mustafa Othman Ebeid, Sudan Defense Force presentation, in “The Situation from a Military Point of View Panel,” Regional Conference on the Menace of Landmines in the Arab Countries, Beirut, Lebanon, 11 February 1999.

[17] “ANNEX A: Request for Assistance dated 25 January 1997,” in UN/DHA/MCPU, Sudan Assessment Mission Report - Annexes, August 1997.

[18] UN/DHA/MCPU, Sudan Assessment Mission Report, August 1997, p. 10.

[19] The Republic of Sudan, Humanitarian Aid Commission, “Sudan: Mine Action Programme (SMAP), July 1997, p. 1. In ANNEX I: The HAC Report, Sudan Mine Action Programme, July 1997, in UN/DHA/MCPU, Assessment Mission Report - Annexes, August 1997.


[21]“Sudan: Country Profile,” in U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers: The Global Landmine Crisis (Washington D.C.:U.S. Department of State, 1998), p.52.

[22]HRW interview with Aleu Ayieny Aleu, OSIL-Sudan, 15 February 1999.

[23]See Annex G: Areas and Roads reported mined to the Assessment Team,” in UN/DHA/MCPU, Sudan Assessment Mission Report - Annexes, August 1997.

[24]HRW interview, Aleu Ayieny Aleu, OSIL-Sudan, 15 February 1999.

[25]Other factors inhibiting land-delivery of humanitarian relief in southern Sudan include inadequate roads and ambushes of overland and river transport. See, HRW, Famine in Sudan, 1998, p. 38.

[26]See “Sudan’s Warring Parties Agree to Stop Using Landmines,” Reuters Nairobi, 11 March 1999. The UN Assessment noted that “GOS sketches of mined areas have been captured by the SPLA during the winder/spring offensive [but] it should be noted that maps or records have rarely been kept; what may exist is incomplete at best.” in UN/DHA/MCPU, Sudan Assessment Mission Report, August 1997, p. 12.

[27]OSIL-Sudan/SRRA, “Landmine Information-Sudan,” p. 5.

[28]UN/DHA/MCPU, Sudan Assessment Mission Report,” August 1997, pp. 2-3.

[29]Annex I - HAC report, Sudan Mine Action Programme, July 1997 in UN/DHA/MCPU, Sudan Assessment Mission Report - Annexes, August 1997.

[30]Annex J - OSIL, Mine Action Projects for southern Sudan, 1997/97 in UN/DHA/MCPU, Sudan Assessment Mission Report - Annexes, August 1997.

[31] LM Researcher interview with Dan Collison, programme officer, Christian Aid, Nairobi, 18 December 1998.

[32]OSIL-Sudan/SRRA, “Landmine Information-Sudan,” p. 5.

[33]Collison, Christian Aid, 18 December 1998.


[35]This is according to OSIL-Sudan/SRRA, “Landmine Information-Sudan,” p. 1. MAG has agreed to asses OSIL’s mine clearance efforts to date in early 1999 according to Collinson, CA, 18 December 1998.

[36]LM interview with Aleu Ayieny Aleu, Director, OSIL-Sudan, 7 October 1998.

[37]Collinson, CA, 18 December 1998.

[38]See “MAG, Southern Sudan,” in Handicap International, Mines Advisory Group and Norwegian People’s Aid, Portfolio of Mine-related Projects, 1998-, 4 December 1998.

[39]HRW interview, Aleu Ayieny Aleu, OSIL-Sudan, 15 February 1999.



[42]This is according to OSIL-Sudan/SRRA, “Landmine Information-Sudan,” p. 5.

[43]OSIL-Sudan/SRRA, “Landmine Information-Sudan,” p. 5.

[44] The Republic of Sudan, Humanitarian Aid Commission, “Sudan: Mine Action Programme (SMAP), July 1997, in ANNEX I: The HAC Report, Sudan Mine Action Programme, JULY 1997, in UN/DHA/MCPU, Sudan Assessment Mission Report - Annexes, August 1997.

[45]OSIL-Sudan/SRRA, “Landmine Information-Sudan,” p. 4.

[46]UN/DHA/MCPU, Sudan Assessment Mission Report, p. 9.


[48] UN/DHA/MCPU, Sudan Assessment Mission Report, p. 15.

[49] "Sudan Air Force Bombs Southern Hospital Aid Group,” Reuters Nairobi, 3 March 1999.

[50] LM Researcher email correspondence from Claudio Feo, Norwegian People’s Aid, 29 March 1999.

[51]"Sudan Government Bombed Civilian Hospital: Aid Agency,” Reuters, Nairobi, 14 January 1999.

[52] See ICRC section in the Appendices.

[53] LM Researcher interview with Reverend Lexson Awad, Director, Sudan Evangelical Mission, Nairobi, 8 January 1999.

[54]Church Ecumenical Action in Sudan (CEAS) Annual Report, 1996.