During the 4th Meeting of States Parties to the Anti Personal Mine Ban Treaty a meeting took place between representatives of the Government of Sudan (GoS), the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the United Nations Mine Action service (UNMAS). The meeting focused on appropriate ways of UN support to the development of national mine action imperatives and resulted in a Tri-partite Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) being signed by all parties on 19 September 2002.
Under the terms of the MOU, the UN will seek to help both parties to jointly develop a national mine action strategy that meets the immediate needs of the emergency humanitarian situation and plans ahead to post conflict Sudan. Such strategy will eventually lead to a mutually agreed National Mine Action Plan. The Agreement realises the request of both parties to the UN to implement an emergency mine action project in Sudan with the overall objective of reducing mine/UXO casualties among the civilian population and the humanitarian aid community.
The signing of this MOU coincides with the Programme moving into the Consolidation Phase and the Detailed Plan will describe activities during this Phase and concentrate on the operational requirements of the MOU.
NATIONAL MINE ACTION STRATEGY
In accordance with Reference A, the UN will assist the development of a National Mine Action Strategy according to the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality and humanity so that priority is given to those who are most vulnerable.
Support will be developed in the following three areas:
a) Establishment, training and assistance of a national Mine Action management capability.
b) Direct, emergency intervention, to address immediate needs and support immediate humanitarian intervention requirements.
c) Facilitate and assist the development of an appropriate national NGO mine clearance capacity.
A basic operational approach will be adopted designed to quickly neutralise the mine/UXO threat. The concept involves direct intervention to clear and open key routes throughout the area and to reduce, by technical survey, the larger mined areas down to their actual dangerous perimeter and then mark and fence. National assets may then achieve longer-term follow-up clearance with management responsibility transferred to the national authorities. The four key aspects of this operational approach involve: task co-ordination, technical survey assets, use of Explosive Detection Dog teams and the sustainment of national manual clearance NGO's.
Various mechanical machines/methods may be considered for introduction over time as the situation becomes more stable and more detailed knowledge of the logistic/geographical constraints is gained.
National Mine Action Office
The National Mine Action Office (NMAO) structure will look ahead to a post conflict Sudan and plan to ensure that all local activities, in GoS or SPLM areas, are conducted in a common manner, in accordance with international standards and can easily be merged together when appropriate. Whilst either GoS or SPLM components may work independently of each other, it is the role of the UN Senior Technical Advisor (STA) to assist both sides to develop a uniform approach with common procedures and reporting elements.
The SCBL component of the NMAO will continue to develop "cross line" links and dialogue with SPLM counterparts.
The principal of Sudanese ownership will be applied throughout. All UN personnel are deployed in an advisory role and will work with nationally identified individual counterparts and counterpart bodies. With regard to GoS areas, this counterpart body is comprised of a partnership between the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) and the Sudan Campaign to Ban Landmines (SCBL). These two Sudanese organisations represent between them the government and civil society and are both represented in the National Mine Action Office in Khartoum.
The SPLM counterpart body is comprised of a political and technical group of four persons from within the SPLM headquarters element. A specific individual will be identified by this group to work within the Southern Sudan Mine Action Co-ordination Office being established in Rumbek.
In its supporting and advisory role the UN will seek to quickly develop the management and operational planning skills of these key individuals but will in all cases respect the executive decisions of the counterpart bodies.
To enable effective use of limited mine/UXO clearance resources it is fundamental to have an appropriate operational co-ordination procedure. A valid co-ordination mechanism is vital to ensure that all organisations are performing their function in a cost efficient and effective manner, all in pursuit of a stated objective.
An operational co-ordination facility will be established in Khartoum and Rumbek and each will carry out the following functions, within its own respective areas of responsibility:
a) Task identification and planning.
b) Task prioritisation, in accordance with humanitarian principals, general developmental needs and planned humanitarian agency/NGO interventions.
c) Ensuring MRE activities compliment mine clearance tasks.
d) Central reporting and information dissemination.
e) External quality assurance activities.
f) Single focal point to liase in the sensitive issues of training mines and carriage/use of explosives.
g) Formal investigation of mine clearance accidents.
Existing links with the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) will be built upon to ensure that mine clearance is concentrated in those areas that would enhance the overall humanitarian/development plan.
Close co-operation links with the relevant military authority will be established to ensure that any planned mine clearance is in the spirit of the MOU, in accordance with humanitarian principals of impartiality and neutrality and has the prior agreement of either GoS and/or SPLM. It is expected that the national counterparts will be able to action this key requirement.
CAPACITY BUILDING AND RESOURCE MOBILISATION
The intention of the UN Emergency Mine Action Programme in Sudan is to set in place and develop a national management capacity fully able to plan and manage the medium to long-term mine action requirements for Sudan. Such a capacity will be developed in both GoS and SPLM areas in a manner common to both. This will be achieved by:
a) Close liaison and mentoring of selected counterparts.
b) Developing operational plans and documents in full consultation with counterpart bodies.
c) Selected national personnel to attend external mine action management courses.
d) Key national personnel to attend international mine action conferences.
e) Selected visits to other mine action programmes (Yemen. Lebanon, Afghanistan).
f) Continuous feedback and on the job training.
g) Formal, in-country, training.
Whilst direct mine clearance intervention will be needed in the short term to open key routes and expand access to basic services, particularly in the wake of any Machakos led ceasefire agreement, it is vital that existing national NGO's are assisted with their development to such a degree that they can implement the medium to long term mine/UXO clearance requirements with minimal outside support. This will be achieved by:
a) Encouragement and facilitation of international NGO's willing to implement through existing national NGO's. This is the stated GoS policy requirement.
b) Assistance with the draft and usage of operational SOP.
c) Assistance with the application of all technical matters.
d) Close liaison with the International donor community to generate interest and support for:
(1) Funding grants for equipment.
(2) Provision of in-kind training personnel for limited periods of time with finite and achievable objectives.
Development and marketing of a consolidated multi-year funding plan and formal presentation to varied donor groups.
The aim of external Quality Assurance (QA) is to confirm that mine/UXO clearance organisation are applying their accredited management processes and operational procedures in a manner that will result in the safe, effective and efficient clearance of land within Sudan.
External QA monitoring is essentially a passive activity conducted by or on behalf of the National Mine Action Authority. It involves observation, recording and reporting. External QA monitoring complements the mine/UXO clearance organisations own internal quality management system. It verifies that the organisations quality assurance procedures and internal quality control inspections are appropriate and are being applied, but it does not replace the organisations responsibility for ensuring the application of safe, effective and efficient operational procedures.
Validation of the mine/UXO clearance process will be achieved through the accreditation and monitoring of mine/UXO clearance organisations before and during the clearance process, and, if deemed appropriate, by the inspection of cleared land prior to it's formal release.
The UN Technical Advisors will assist their national counterparts to conduct regular, valid and unobtrusive QA monitoring visits. Monitoring will involve structured discussions with management and mine/UXO clearance personnel, observation of clearance activities and formal inspections of SOP, reports and records. An all-inclusive set of QA monitoring forms will be developed and circulated to all mine/UXO clearance organisations.
Where shortfalls are observed and/or best practices are not incorporated it will be the policy to discuss all aspects with the mine/UXO clearance organisation and work to identify solutions. Where appropriate, organisations may be assisted to implement recommended solutions.
The operational objective of mine/UXO clearance operations, both in the current conflict situation and in any Machakos implemented Interim Period, will be to systematically reduce the threat posed by landmines/UXO to the population and humanitarian aid staff in Sudan by a process of identification, isolation and clearance. This will be achieved by clearing mine-affected roads/routes so that people may be free to move throughout the area without fear of landmines and by marking and fencing larger areas for later, prioritised, clearance.
Priority and consensus for clearance will be achieved in the following manner: mutual agreement from both military entities that the intended area for clearance has no further military utility and clearance may commence with the consent of both parties; integration into both the Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP) and the developing UN Contingency Plan for Peace will be sought; a key planning element will incorporate local community committees consisting of local civil authorities and civil society such as village chiefs, religious leaders and indigenous NGO's. Together these elements will combine to set priorities for mine/UXO clearance in their respective areas.
Mine Risk Education
Mine Risk Education (MRE) should not be seen as an isolated vehicle to simply alert people to the characteristics and presence of mines; but rather a participatory approach should be developed with close linkages with all components of the mine action spectrum.
Village based mine awareness/mine risk reduction teams will seek to work with the local community to identify areas of land or access ways to land, that are not used due to fear of the presence of mines. Objective questioning will seek to sort fact from fiction or more appropriately, "substantiated fact from perceived fact". Such information may then be used to deploy an appropriate level of response and technique, consistent with the inferred threat.
The provision of a dedicated UNICEF MRE Co-ordinator in both Khartoum and Rumbek will assist the constant flow of information back and forth from the mine-affected community to the mine action co-ordination offices. Mine Action Support Teams will be developed to facilitate this and act as the conduit that information regarding recently cleared or discredited areas and further identification of suspect areas, flows through.
IDP and refugee camps, both in and out of the country, will be regularly targeted for education in mine awareness/mine risk reduction activities with the specific intention of mitigating the number of mine/UXO casualties caused by "curiosity" and lack of awareness of the inherent dangers of handling and/or tampering with mines/UXO. This will also serve to identify potential and planned returnee locations and dates so that such priorities are included in the mine/UXO clearance planning.
UNICEF will fund, plan and co-ordinate a nationally based MRE Needs Assessment to assist with the overall mine action planning process, to positively identify those communities most at risk and to develop appropriate materials and messages.
Victim Assistance (VA) to both landmine/UXO survivors and victims is a core component of UN mine action strategy. Both the National Mine Action Office in Khartoum and the Southern Sudan Mine Action Co-ordination Office, in Rumbek will have the following responsibilities in this area:
a) Collect and collate all mine/UXO casualty data.
b) Through use of IMSMA identify areas of high incidence and liase with WHO to provide and/or enhance first line, emergency, medical care in those areas.
c) Subsequently assist with identifying suitable, centralised, locations for rehabilitation and prostheses facilities.
d) Maintain general public awareness of the effect of landmine/UXO injuries and use specific data and examples to support the SCBL advocacy campaign for Sudan to ratify the Anti Personnel Mine Ban Treaty.
The GoS are a signatory to the Ottawa Convention and the SPLM have made commitments to comply with the Geneva Call, a Non States Actors parallel, instrument subjecting themselves to the same obligations on mine use as States Parties to the Ottawa Convention. Many of the political and military hurdles affecting GoS ratification have now been resolved and there is a growing recognition, within both government and military circles, that it is now appropriate to reinforce their intent as signatories.
Should this be the case, especially as it may coincide with a positive outcome from the current Machakos Peace Talks, then the International Community should be fully ready to support such commitment and strengthen Sudan's ability to address its mine/UXO problem.
The SCBL will be an integral component of the National Mine Action Strategy and will continue to conduct activities in the following fields:
a) Field surveys, research and data gathering to identify effective policy implementation.
b) Heightened advocacy for ratification and subsequent implementation.
c) Work to place Mine Action at the forefront of the humanitarian and development agenda in Sudan and to ensure adequate resource mobilisation.
d) Support for the use of cross-conflict Mine Action activities as an advocacy tool for peace.
The Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) will be used in Sudan as the basis for task planning and co-ordination. A central data entry terminal will be located within the National Mine Action Office in Khartoum and this will form the hub of a number of remote terminals located throughout GoS controlled Sudan. A similar, but independent, data entry terminal will be located within the Southern Sudan Mine Action Co-ordination Office with remote terminals also located throughout SPLM controlled Sudan.
All remote terminals will be Read Only in function and all new data will initially be entered into one of the two central terminals to maintain integrity and validity of information. Remote/Read Only terminals will be established where operationally appropriate and their Area of Responsibility agreed by previous consent. Information gathered at regionally located Field Offices may freely flow to/from the respective central terminal, but will not be offered cross-line without the express, written, consent of the appropriate party.
To enable the effective integration of mine/UXO data into ongoing and planned humanitarian activities, Read Only terminals may also be requested by other agencies/NGO's to assist their operational planning.
The UN will provide initial and continuation training and IMSMA Field Module software to agencies/NGO's successfully requesting an IMSMA terminal. All such requests are to be initially directed through the UN Technical Advisors but will ultimately be approved by the National Mine Action Office or Southern Sudan Mine Action Co-ordination Office, as appropriate.
MANAGEMENT AND ADMINISTRATION
The UN will assist both GoS and SPLM to effectively undertake the co-ordination of all mine action activities; this will include the establishment of technical standards for mine/UXO clearance; accreditation of the various mine/UXO clearance organisations and the quality assurance of tasks completed by such organisations. This will be achieved in the following manner:
a) Establishment of a set of minimum standards for mine/UXO clearance. These will cover the safety of people directly or indirectly involved in the work, the quality of the work (level of clearance), medical evacuation procedures and common activities such as minefield marking and reporting.
b) Identification of acceptable procedures that will provide Guidelines for the conduct of clearance operations. These will provide the basis for Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to be developed by individual clearance organisations.
c) To achieve an accepted standard level of competence and operational best practice, all organisations will be required to conform to the necessary accreditation requirements before and during Mine Action activities in Sudan.
d) The preparation of an evaluation ground for dogs and criteria for the evaluation of dogs. Programmes
e) Quality Assurance (QA) of mine/UXO clearance in the field.
Accreditation is the procedure by which a mine/UXO clearance organisation is formally recognised as competent and able to plan and manage mine/UXO clearance activities safely, effectively and efficiently. All such organisations will be required to achieve accreditation prior to commencing mine/UXO clearance operations in Sudan. The National Mine Action Office will issue accreditation for those organisations intending to work within GoS controlled areas and the South Sudan Mine Action Co-ordination Office for those working in SPLM controlled areas. The UN STA will assist both Offices to develop compatible and standard accreditation procedures.
Accreditation will be approached in three stages:
a) Initially a desk evaluation of an organisations structure, capability, work history and qualifications will be conducted. The following criteria will be considered:
i. Organisational and Management Structure. The organisational / management structure and proposed representation in country, including the arrangements to use sub-contractors and joint ventures.
ii. Formal Qualifications. The formal qualifications and practical experience of the management team will be evaluated. Recognition will be given to the membership of relevant and recognized professional institutes or bodies. The qualifications and experience of operational and support staff will also be considered. Details of organisations previous clearance operations will be taken into consideration.
iii. Safety, Equipment Suitability, Insurance. Worksite Safety and Occupational Health practices will be considered. The capability and suitability of equipment for specific tasks will be reviewed and confirmation that the insurance covers for both personal and third party liability cover is adequate will be sought.
iv. Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Confirmation that the SOP is relevant to the task and in accordance with National Technical Guidelines and Standards. This will include a confirmation of the internal Quality Assurance process and documenting procedure.
b) During the second stage an on-site field assessment will take place. The following activities will be observed and assessed as adequate and in accordance with national requirements:
v. Supervision, Logistic And Admin set-up.
vi. Training Facilities, Training Courses, Field Testing And Evaluation Of Manual Equipment.
vii. Field Testing/Evaluation Of EDD and/or Mechanical Equipment (if applicable).
viii. Clearance Activities and linkages with Community.
ix. Adherence to SOP Drills and Procedures, including reporting.
c) Once all the above criteria have been reviewed and are assessed as in conformity with national policy, standards and requirements a formal Letter of Accreditation may be issued following successful conclusion of the first stage noted above and then granting the organisation a License to conduct specific mine/UXO clearance activities in Sudan following a successful on site field assessment. Either the National Mine Action Office, in Khartoum, or the South Sudan Mine Action Co-ordination Office, in Rumbek, will issue such a letter for activities in GoS or SPLM areas respectively.
The purpose of such an accreditation process is to enable the appropriate Sudanese authority to effectively monitor all Mine Action activities conducted in the country, to achieve an accepted standard level of competence and operational best practice and to ensure that all such activities are being directed in accordance with national strategic objectives. As such, it is the role of the UN Technical Advisors and national counterparts to work closely with all organisations and assist them to reach the necessary standard and compliance.
National Guidelines And Technical Standards
The Sudanese National Guidelines and Technical Standards are to be adhered to by all mine/UXO clearance organisations. They will provide the basis for a high standard and uniform level of safety for people involved and ensures that the quality of work is acceptable. The latter is important for the people who will eventually occupy and use cleared areas.
The technical standards encompass all aspects of the mine/UXO clearance process, from management through to the individual operator. The main purpose of the technical standards is to ensure a high level of safety and that all elements of a mine/UXO programme that promote safety (including good medical evacuation procedures and a satisfactory work output), have been established and are working effectively.
Specific mine/UXO clearance techniques/drills have been included in the technical standards only to limited extent. The guidelines however, provide suggestions of techniques, drills and procedures that may be adopted by the various organisations through their respective SOP if desired. It is also recognised that specific techniques/drills may differ from each organisation. This is acceptable, so long as they do not contradict those set out in the Sudanese National Guidelines and Technical Standards.
This document is designed to be a "living" document. The procedures and practices will be continually reviewed in order to ensure they remain relevant to the current mine situation, and keep up with advances in technology.
Where necessary this document meets and exceeds those minimum standards set out in the International Mine Action Standards and should be read in conjunction with that publication at all times.
An initial draft has been circulated and reviewed among GoS based organisations and is now accepted, in its draft form, as an operationally accepted document within GoS controlled Sudan.
A subsequent draft will now be produced and reviewed following consultations with the appropriate SPLM authorities/organisations. Once the two separate documents have been accepted for use in their respective areas then a provisional Final Publication will be combined to create a mutually accepted document for the whole of Sudan, subject to normal review and amendment.
Accurate and timely reporting of all mine action activities is a key feature of an effective mine action programme. All mine/UXO clearance organisations are to submit regular reports, in the correct format, to the National Mine Action Office or Southern Sudan Mine Action Co-ordination Office as appropriate.
Completion Reports are to be submitted no later than five days following a task completion. A report, which summarises weekly operational activities, is to be submitted on a weekly basis. Organisations will not be attributed with clearance figures stated in the Weekly Reports until the Completion Report has been received and verified. The following reports will be required:
a. Weekly / Monthly Summary Reports
b. Weekly Location/Task Plan
c. Mine Clearance Completion and Suspension Reports
d. Dangerous Area Reports
e. Mine/UXO Incident/Accident Reports
f. Handover and Formal Declaration Certificate
CROSS-CONFLICT MINE ACTION
The ongoing civil war in Sudan currently precludes the implementation of a conventional centralised Mine Action programme; this situation is likely to remain during the Interim Period of any Ceasefire/Peace Settlement resulting from the current Machakos Peace Talks.
It is therefore the intention of the UN Emergency Mine Action Programme in Sudan to work within the confines of this conflict situation and wherever possible develop cross-conflict, peace building initiatives, that will demonstrate a tangible peace dividend to all communities and help to build trust and confidence between the two separate authorities.
The following general principals should be observed by all organisations intending to involve themselves in Mine Action activity in Sudan:
a) Where possible, and feasible, all intended projects should plan their activities to be cross-conflict in nature and seek to develop an equal capacity in both GoS and SPLM controlled areas.
b) Where planned activities are cross-conflict they must be fully endorsed by the Sudanese Mine Action focal points in both GoS and SPLM. All such projects should have a clear peace-building component and be formalised with a tri-partite Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between the Mine Action organisation the GoS and SPLM.
c) The Project should seek to turn direct mine/UXO clearance actions into immediate and tangible benefits for the affected community. Such benefits may include: the rehabilitation of mine/UXO cleared roads, restoring pre conflict livelihood and access to basic services.
d) At any stage during the Project implement