Preparing a demolition in Brazzaville.
Three months after the tragic explosion at a munitions depot in the Republic of Congo's capital, Brazzaville, MAG is continuing to help communities rebuild their lives.
[Photo: MAG ROC]
Not only do residents of the surrounding Mpila neighbourhood remain at risk of death or injury from unstable projectiles scattered by the blast, but those who lost or evacuated their homes – many of whom are living in makeshift camps – have been unable to return due to the ongoing threat.
The problem doesn’t stop there: humanitarian agencies distributing medical supplies and assisting with the clear-up operation have been unable to reach those in need because of the widespread contamination.
Working with the Congolese Armed Forces and United Nations Mine Action Service, four MAG Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams have been carrying out Battle Area Clearance in the area of the blast's epicentre, while eight Community Liaison teams have continued to deliver safety briefings and Risk Education sessions to vulnerable people in the 5km damage radius of the explosion.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal
MAG EOD teams removed 259,767 dangerous items during April, clearing 63,810m² of contaminated land. The EOD teams also carried out 62 spot tasks in residential areas.
In April, 32,705 people benefitted from MAG’s Community Liaison and Risk Education activities, including safety briefings and the distribution of more than 2,000 leaflets and 300-plus posters. In addition, data gathering on contamination levels in areas adjacent to the epicentre of the blast was carried out.
Unplanned explosions at munitions sites: a global problem
There have been more than 50 unplanned explosions at munitions sites in 34 countries since 2009, and five in the last five months alone.
On 4 March 2012, a series of explosions occurred in a munitions depot in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, killing more than 280 people, injuring 1,500 and making 14,000 homeless.
Children, naturally inquisitive and attracted to new 'toys' they find, need special attention, so ten billboards with a comic strip design have been produced and set up in schools in the affected neighbourhoods, this on top of the formal Risk Education sessions.
Sessions and training on Risk Education delivery were carried out for 39 staff members of aid organisations. And 175 members of local authorities affected by the explosion also received Risk Education; it is expected these people will become central to the reporting of information on contamination in their neighbourhoods.
The current phase of the emergency response operation will run until mid-September 2012. Current operations are viewed as part of a long-term, sustainable response, and MAG is actively seeking funding to continue its work in the Republic of Congo in order to reduce the likelihood of a future tragic event of this nature.
1 June 2012
Thanks to the following donors for their vital support in assisting MAG's emergency response:
• British Embassy in Kinshasa
• European Union Delegation in Republic of Congo
• Federal Republic of Germany
REPUBLIC OF CONGO: More lives at risk as blast leaves Brazzaville scattered with unexploded ordnance
Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites [Small Arms Survey website]