The Swedish Rescue Services Agency (SRSA) has dispatched a four-person explosive ordnance disposal team to assist the United Nations Mine Action Office (UNMAO) in Sudan, it was announced today.
Conducting a series of demining missions in Abyei, a town in central Sudan that has been disputed since the end of the north-south civil war, the Swedish team of experts will remain until the end of 2008 in support of humanitarian activities for the return and reintegration of internally displaced persons (IDPs) affected by recent fighting.
Coordinated through the UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan (UNMIS), the Mine Action Committee will compile requests for work and delegate priorities.
Working to clear unexploded ordnances that have been reported at the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and UN Development Programme (UNDP) compounds, the explosive ordnance disposal team will also work in various non-government organization (NGO) and government compounds, Abyei’s secondary schools and at the reintegration centres for IDPs.
However, following the rainy season, the grass is too tall and the soil is too wet in some parts of Abyei to resume clearance operations.
With an annual budget of $73 million, UNMAO is the second largest mine action programme in the world, coordinating, facilitating and overseeing all mine action activities in Sudan.
Since the beginning of the programme in 2002, UNMAO’s achievements have included the clearance of almost 43 million square metres of land, the destruction of over 800,000 mines and unexploded ordnances and the education of 2.3 million people about mine awareness issues.