Mine clearance operations urgently needed in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Jebel Marra
Mine Action Support Group (MASG) meeting of the year highlighted the urgent need for mine clearance operations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states and the Jebel Marrah area
Khartoum - The first Mine Action Support Group (MASG) meeting of the year, convened in Khartoum on 19 January, highlighted the urgent need for mine clearance operations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states and the Jebel Marrah area in Darfur in opening humanitarian corridors to enable humanitarian aid delivery to the opposition-controlled areas.
The meeting was co-chaired by the German Ambassador H.E. Ullrich Klöckner and the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC) Ms. Gwi-Yeop Son and addressed by the Minister of Defence H.E. Lt. Gen Jamal Al-din Omar.
Keynote speakers included the United States Chargé d’affaires H.E. Brian Shukan, UNMAS Chief of Programmes Mr. Paul Heslop and UNMAS Sudan Programme Manager Mr. Sediq Rashid. The meeting was attended by ambassadors of the United Kingdom and Japan and representatives from Switzerland, Italy, Norway, UK Department for International Development, United States Agency for International Development and National Mine Action Center.
“Cross-line humanitarian aid delivery is five times cheaper than that through the cross-border” said Ms. Gwi-Yeop Son.
The German Ambassador H.E. Ullrich Klöckner, the new chair of the MASG platform, congratulated the United States for successfully completing its chairmanship of the MASG in the last two years and affirmed his support to mine action. “Germany is committed to mine action and I saw its impact in opening humanitarian access and development in Zimbabwe and Mozambique,” he said.
The US Chargé d’affaires H.E. Brian Shukan explained the achievements during his tenure as MASG chair, including doubling US contribution to UNMAS. He further expressed continuous US support for Sudan until it meets Ottawa treaty obligations by 2023. “US encourages all the parties to end the conflict and allow clearance of mines and explosive ordnance,” he added.
UNMAS Sudan Programme Manager Sediq Rashid explained mine action needs in the Two Areas and Jebel Marra. He stated that “there are 350 km of roads in South Kordofan and 200km of roads in Blue Nile that need to be cleared to enable humanitarian assistance to SPLM-N controlled areas”.
UNMAS Chief of Programmes Mr. Paul Heslop congratulated Sudan on its presidency of the 18th Meeting of States Parties to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and thanked mine action donors namely Japan, Italy, US and UK’s DFID for the progress made so far, including completion of clearing all known explosive ordnance in the Eastern states. With the progress in peace talks in Juba, “UNMAS is ready for emergency mine action response to bring humanitarian assistance and immediate peace dividends to South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Jebel Marra”. Mr. Heslop further added that “while opening the Kadugli – Kauda road will need 5 million USD, doing so will mean the logistics costs of humanitarian assistance in the area will diminish by a factor of 10”.
The Minister of Defence H.E. Lt. Gen Jamal Al-din Omar thanked the donor community and the United Nations for their support to Sudan and highlighted the government’s commitment towards mine action and its obligations under the Ottawa treaty. “Intervention of mine action at this critical stage is so crucial and an overriding priority as it will strongly boost the ongoing process of building peace”, the Minister added while requesting donors to come onboard to support Sudan’s mine action needs.