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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2004 > October
Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 29, 2004

United States Clears Unexploded Ordnance to Help Speed Relief Aid to Sudan's Rumbek Region

The U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, working through its RONCO Consulting Corporation contractor, successfully completed a battlefield area clearance project by the vital dirt airstrip at Rumbek in southern Sudan.  This will enable the United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) to safely improve the runway making it available to large transport aircraft, significantly increasing the volume of relief supplies provided to meet the needs of Sudanese civilians.


Rumbek is an important transit point for food, medicine and other critical items en route to needy populations in southern Sudan.  Up to now, only small single and twin-engine aircraft could land at Rumbek.  With the completion of the battlefield area clearance, WFP will be able to expand the airstrip so that larger aircraft such as C-130 transports can deliver greater amounts of aid.


The World Food Program is expected to begin runway and apron improvements in November.


Photos depicting the Rumbek airstrip in its present state immediately following completion of the battlefield area clearance project may be viewed online at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/pix/b/37518.htm.


In 2002, the U.S. Department of State facilitated the safe return of displaced Sudanese to the Nuba Mountain region in Sudan by deploying its Quick Reaction Demining Force to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance there.


The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs provides humanitarian mine action assistance and support for small arms/light weapons mitigation worldwide.  To learn more, visit www.state.gov/t/pm/wra.



1.      A wrecked twin-engine Royal New Zealand Air Force Andover aircraft at the Rumbek airstrip that suffered catastrophic engine failure after delivering relief supplies.

2.      Lengthwise view of the current runway looking due north.  Ground at the northern end and beside the airstrip was carefully swept for landmines and unexploded ordnance in order that shrubs and trees can be safely removed to extend and widen the runway.

3.      The area immediately at the north end of the runway, now safe from the humanitarian impact of unexploded ordnance, which will be leveled and prepared for the lengthening and widening of the runway.

4.      A road alongside the runway.  Two pieces of unexploded ordnance were cleared from the area to the left of the road and the immediate foreground.  Besides enabling the safe expansion of the runway, the existing aircraft apron will be widened so that a large four-engine aircraft may safely turn around after it has landed.

5.      The flight operations center at Lokichokio Airport in Kenya, from where relief flights to Rumbek originate.

6.      United Nations World Food Program C-130 Hercules transports parked at Lokichokio Airport.  After the World Food Program improves the Rumbek airstrip now that it has been cleared of unexploded ordnance, these heavy aircraft will be able to dramatically increase the amount of food, medicine, clothing and shelter needed in the Rumbek region of southern Sudan.

CREDIT ALL PHOTOS TO: Matt Murphy, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement


Released on October 29, 2004

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