Operation Save Innocent Lives - southern Sudan

News and Press Release
Originally published
Sudan, the largest country in Africa, was jointly ruled by Britain and Egypt until independence in 1956. Conflict followed, with the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) engaging each other in a long drawn-out civil war - one that still persists today. As with all such tragedies, it is often the civilians that suffer; more than 4 million people are displaced whilst some 350,000 have fled to become refugees in neighbouring countries. Towns in southern Sudan, such as Yei, are surrounded by barrier anti-tank minefields. Unexploded ordnance, like rockets, mortars and shells are everywhere - remnants of battles past and repeatedly taking lives amongst the vulnerable population. As a result, the population of Yei is confined to the immediate locality - unable to venture afar to farm, trade or draw water, for fear of death and injury from the silent and hidden killers.
Operation Save Innocent Lives (OSIL), a local NGO, was established by former Sudanese military engineers to help clear landmines and unexploded ordnance from SPLA-held areas of Sudan - enabling communities to re-establish themselves. Realising that they needed more technical expertise OSIL, in association with Christian Aid, approached MAG for assistance. Since 1998, MAG has been working with OSIL to develop both its technical mine clearance capacity and its approach to community liaison.

MAG is delighted to be supporting OSIL and over the years, much has been achieved. At the beginning we worked to determine safe and practical Standard Operating Procedures, help organise stores and inventory procedures, ensure equipment needs were addressed and provide technical refresher training. This has all been accomplished and over the last 6 months attention has turned to other needs: further developing OSIL's technical and community liaison capacity, assistance with data gathering, and methodologies for prioritising community needs through training and subsequent evaluation.

OSIL is working to provide the civilian population of southern Sudan with a safer living environment by locating and destroying landmines and unexploded bombs that are killing and injuring civilians in southern Sudan. But times have been difficult and as the war continues there have been a number of air-raids and mortar attacks on the area. Supplies can be problematic and equipment shortfalls have to be overcome. MAG is committed to OSIL and committed to building local capacities that save life and limb.

OSIL has requested that MAG returns for a further six months' capacity developments, focusing on Community Liaison, demining training and support, administration and medical support.