Celebrating the entry into force of the Convention for Cluster Munitions, government officials, diplomats and UN officials gathered at the Sudanese Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs on 1 August.
"Sudan does not have a stockpile of cluster munitions and it does not intend to use cluster bombs, but we share the suffering of other nations who are affected from this type of munitions," Mutrif Sidigg, State Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and the Secretary General for the National Mine Action Authority, told participants.
Also attending were representatives of the High Committee of the National Mine Action Authority, British and Norwegian embassies as well as the UN Mine Action Office (UNMAO)
Leonie Barnes, acting Programme Manager of UNMAO in Sudan, noted that about 78 per cent of the reported 6,250 dangerous areas had been verified or cleared and over 38,914 kilometres of high priority routes opened since the beginning of the mine action programme.
The sector had also educated 3.18 million civilians about the dangers of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), Ms. Barnes said. Over 22,500 anti personnel mines and 4,500 anti tank mines have been destroyed and around 900,000 items of unexploded ordnance have been destroyed.
"These achievements have enabled access to agricultural land, facilitated the recommencement of trade and allowed displaced populations to safely return to their home towns," the UNMAO programme manager said.
Ms. Barnes added that UNMAO was especially pleased with its continuous collaboration with the National Mine Action Centre and Southern Sudan Demining Authority. UNMAO had been working closely with these two bodies in transferring mine action responsibilities to them by 2011.
She assured the National Government and Government of Southern Sudan that UNMAO would continue to work with the authorities towards a Sudan free from landmines and ERW by 2014, encouraging the country to accede to the Convention for Cluster Munitions.
Responding to her words, State Minister Sidigg said, "I am working hard in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Sudan to join the convention before the 1st States Parties Meeting in Laos, next November."