By Alessandro Palmoso
On 31 March, the Republic of Sudan finished destroying its antipersonnel mine stockpile, just ahead of its 1 April 2008 deadline under Article 4 of the Mine Ban Treaty. A final destruction ceremony took place in Juba, Southern Sudan and was attended by around 150 participants, including representatives of the Government of South Sudan, the Government of National Unity (GONU), the UN, the ICRC, representatives of the diplomatic community, the Sudan Campaign to Ban Landmines, and other NGOs.
Sudan's stockpile destruction took place in two phases. The GONU first destroyed a total of 4,488 antipersonnel mineson 30 April 2007 in Khartoum. The 31 March ceremony in Juba saw the destruction of the Government of Southern Sudan/Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) stock of 6,078 antipersonnel mines, plus 109 anti-vehicle mines. Originally, the SPLA had declared a total of 5,000 antipersonnel mines. However, when gathering the mines for destruction, the SPLA found additional mines, which were subsequently brought to Juba for destruction.
Sudan will retain a total of 5,000 mines for the purposes of mine clearance and training under Article 3 of the Mine Ban Treaty. These mines come from the stock of the GONU; the Government of South Sudan decided not to retain any mines under Article 3.
The demolition task was assigned to the Bangladeshi Demining Company, part of the United Nation's peacekeeping force in Sudan, which was assisted by the Sudan People's Liberation Army engineers. Canada provided funding for the destruction in Juba, and the UNDP provided technical and other assistance.