UK, Germany to help clear mines in Sudan's Nuba region

Khartoum, Sudan (PANA) - Landmine survey and clearing teams sponsored by the UK and German governments are to be deployed in Sudan's Nuba Mountains region before the end of the current dry season, it has been announced in Khartoum.
The combined commitment of 800,000 US dollars by the two European nations enabled the UN to deploy integrated mine detection dog and manual clearance teams to the Nuba Mountains from January through June 2003.

"This capacity will be used to systematically verify and reduce the suspected mined areas and prove and open key routes throughout the area," said General J.E. Wilhelmsen, commander of the US-led Joint Military Commission (JMC), which observes a truce in Central Sudan's Nuba Mountains region.

Though the Nuba Mountains region is traditionally part of post- colonial Northern Sudan, many of the area's citizens joined the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in the early 1990s to fight for the interests of their region, which they consider to be "economically and politically marginalised."

They consequently occupied the Kawda enclave and continued to attack other government garrisons in the Nuba Mountains region.

At the initiative of the United States and Swiss governments, Sudanese authorities and SPLM/A rebels (Nuba Mountains Sector) signed a truce in early 2002 to allow the passage of badly needed humanitarian assistance to the region's war-impoverished population.

In a news release to PANA in Khartoum, General Wilhelmsen said the Danish NGO, DanChurchAid was conducting joint training of both SPLM and government of Sudan personnel on manual mine clearance.

He said DanChurchAid had deployed mine detection dog teams and is supporting the mine clearing exercise with trained deminers from Kosovo until the joint SPLM/A and government demining teams are ready.

All mine clearing activities in Nuba Mountains are co-ordinated by the UN established Mine Action Co-ordination Office in partnership with the JMC.

General Wilhelmsen said that over 6,000 square meters of land in the Nuba Mountains has been cleared of landmine to facilitate humanitarian activities and the relocation of internally displaced people.


Pan African News Agency
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