SUDAN WATCH: UN demines south Sudan and puts first tarred roads in place

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

UN demines south Sudan and puts first tarred roads in place

Since late 2003, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has rebuilt roughly 1,400 kilometres of roads, repaired bridges and culverts, and removed and destroyed some 200,000 pieces of unexploded ordinance.

Between 500,000 and two million landmines have been laid in Sudan, according to MineTech International, a British-based mine clearance firm which operates in Sudan. The firm says this makes the East African country one of the ten most heavily-mined nations in the world, causing the activities of international aid agencies to be severely constrained.

The United Nations Mine Action Office, established in 2003 to coordinate all mine-related programmes in Sudan, estimates that 155 communities and 4,270 square kilometres of land are at risk in South Sudan as a result of these weapons.

The mines were left by both rebel and government forces. While former SPLM/A rebels laid anti-tank mines to prevent Sudanese government troops from reaching territories under their control, government forces planted mines around garrison towns to keep the rebels away.

Full report Inter Press Service April 23, 2006 Moyiga Nduru Johannesburg.

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