In November, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement–North (SPLM-N) neutralized 211 stockpiled anti-personnel mines with the support of a technical expert brought in by Geneva Call. This first step towards the total destruction of the SPLM-N’s stockpiles follows its signature of Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment banning anti-personnel (AP) mines in 2013. In a region that is heavily contaminated by explosive remnants of war, neutralizing these dangerous devices is essential to avoid further civilian casualties.
When SPLM-N leaders signed the Deed in 2013, they declared owning a stockpile of captured AP mines, and in accordance with the Deed of Commitment, they pledged to destroy it. Since that date, Geneva Call has sought to facilitate its destruction. After a first assessment in June 2015, a team composed of Fred Meylan, Geneva Call’s Programme Director for Africa, and a technical expert got access to some of these devices and facilitated their safe neutralization by the SPLM-N.
Geneva Call will pursue its efforts to engage with the SPLM-N in order to achieve the total destruction of all its anti-personnel mines. “The neutralization of 211 anti-personnel mines could save 211 lives. However, the total stock should now be completely destroyed to ensure full compliance with the Deed of Commitment,” added Fred Meylan.
Geneva Call also took the opportunity to run several awareness-raising courses for civil society organizations and SPLM-N commanders from a particularly isolated area of the conflict, the Blue Nile region. These courses focused on the obligations contained in the Deed of Commitment banning AP mines but also those in the Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict, which the SPLM-N signed earlier this year.
The SPLM-N is militarily active in the Sudanese provinces of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, along the border with South Sudan. These two areas have been severely affected by the armed conflict that erupted there in 2011 between the SPLM-N and the Sudanese armed forces. As a consequence, tens of thousands of people took shelter in refugee camps in South Sudan, and thousands more have been displaced internally.