April 26, 2002
The United State's Department of State is deploying a contract-administered Quick Reaction Demining Force to Sudan, to conduct mine clearance operations in the Nuba Mountains. The advance party left on 19 April and the press conference announcement was on the 24th.
The main body (two squads of 10 persons each, four mine detection dogs, and additional support personnel) are expected to arrive in approximately two weeks.
Refugees and internally displaced persons had relocated into areas where mines are known to exist or suspected of being mined. The US-sponsored Quick Reaction Force's mission in Sudan would be implemented by the RONCO Consulting Corporation, a Washington-based commercial demining company.
The Government of Sudan estimated that between 1989 and 2001, 1,135 persons became mine victims in the Nuba Mountains, while "Save the Children, USA" believes that an additional 25 mine related incidents occurred in the same mountains between December 2000 and February 2002. According to estimates published by the United Nations, there are between 500,000 and two million landmines in Sudan, laid by both the government and rebel groups.
The Quick Reaction Demining Force's mine clearance operations will lessen the likelihood of additional casualties and contribute to the success of the first phase of the recently concluded cease-fire between the Government of the Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army.
Whether the State Department realizes that Khartoum has restarted the war with it's current offensive is unknown. - Adam Geibel