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UN to hand over mine duties to Juba, Khartoum

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November 30, 2008 (KHARTOUM) – The United Nations demining agency
completed a series of workshops to develop a transition framework with
Sudanese authorities which will give Juba and Khartoum full ownership
of mine action programmes by 2011.

JPEG - 63.2 kb
From left to right, Commissioner Jurkuch Barach Jurkuch (GOSS), Deputy
Programme Manager Nigel Forrestal (UNMAO) and Director Alawad
Al-Bashir (GONU) sign a communiqué on mine action. (Photo UNMIS)

The United Nations Mine Action Office (UNMAO) oversees all mine action
activities in Sudan and operates with an annual budget of $73 million.
The agency’s Sudan Mine Action Programme will be transferred to the
National Mine Action Centre (NMAC) based in Khartoum and the South
Sudan Demining Commission (SSDC) based in Juba.

Mine action authorities were established in Juba, the capital of the
semi-autonomous Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) and Khartoum, the
seat of the Government of National Unity (GONU), following the signing
of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005, which ended a 22-year
civil war.

"I believe that we prepared a very good document that will help us
pave the way for the future. Time is very short, but I trust that the
foundations are laid," said Brigadier Alawad AlBashir, director of
NMAC.

Since the beginning of the programme in 2002, UNMAO claims to have
opened almost 28,000 km of roads, cleared 43 million square metres of
land, destroyed 805,000 mines and unexploded ordinance, and educated
2.3 million people about mine awareness issues.

Now the agency plans to transfer mine action responsibilities to
Sudanese authorities in three stages: capacity development, joint
activities and finally full national ownership by 2011.

"UNMAO will implement an exit strategy while placing key national and
international staff among national authorities’ technical advisors,"
said a statement issued by UNMAO on Sunday.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the UN and national authorities
could be signed by the end of 2008, with implementation of the first
phase of the transition plan beginning in January 2009, according to
UNMAO.

Jurkuch Barach Jurkuch, commissioner of the SSDC said, "The
preparation of this plan was not simple, but the fact that it has been
achieved demonstrates the commitment of all parties. Now that the
dream has come true, we need to commit ourselves to it".

Ultimately, Sudanese authorities’ core management responsibilities
will include compliance to the international mine ban, planning and
coordination of mine action activities, establishment of national
technical standards, quality and information management, fundraising
and assisting victims of landmines.

Other parties engaged in the transition process include Sudan’s
Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, the UN Mine Action Service, the UN
Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Children’s Programme (UNICEF).

(ST)

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