MAG works with Burundian authorities to limit the risks of leakage of state-owned weapons falling into civilian or rebel hands and supports the Government of Burundi in the Humanitarian Mine Action sector.
Why MAG is needed in Burundi
Burundi’s 12-year civil war has left the country in a state of underdevelopment and insecurity. A legacy of the conflict is the widespread prevalence of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) [YouTube] such as hand grenades, which continues to jeopardise the security of much of the civilian population and hamper development.
In 2007, nearly 100,000 households in Burundi were thought to possess SALW, with some households possessing more than one weapon1 and despite civilian disarmament campaigns, armed criminality continues demonstrating that SALW are still widely available.
Hand grenades are commonly used in civil disputes and by criminal groups, and can be accessed by children who play with them unaware of the risks.
Furthermore, the civil war, compounded by a lack of human and financial resources, led to the weak management of weapons and ammunition by the Burundian state.
Both the police and the army have recognised leaks from their stocks which are feeding the black market and the current criminal armed groups, and the unsecured stockpiles present risks of explosions.
This is a major concern, not only due to heightened levels of violent crime, but also because the availability of arms at a time of ongoing political insecurity increases the risk of a return to conflict.
Another legacy of the conflict was the presence of landmines and Explosive Remnants of War, especially in the north-west of the country, which could not easily be accessed for clearance until 2010 due to the continued presence of rebels in the Kibira Forest.
However in November 2011, after final clearance activities support by MAG, Burundi declared itself “landmine-free” three years ahead of schedule, at the Eleventh Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on their Destruction.
Your donation to MAG helps us to move into current and former conflict zones to clear the
remnants of conflict, enabling recovery and assisting the development
of affected populations.
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1 Source: Small Arms in Burundi, Disarming the Civilian Population in Peacetime, A Study by the Small Arms Survey and the Ligue Iteka with support from the UNDP-Burundi and Oxfam-NOVIB, Stéphanie Pézard and Nicolas Florquin, August 2007. This estimate takes into account all Small Arms and Light Weapons, and also grenades.
How MAG is helping in Burundi
Since 2007, MAG Burundi has been working directly with the Police Nationale du Burundi (PNB, Burundian Police) and the Force de Defense Nationale (FDN, Burundian Army) to develop their capacity to safely secure and manage their SALW stocks.
The goal is to ensure that SALW from Government stores will not feed in to the black market and non-state armed groups. Since November 2011, following a nationwide survey of FDN stockpiles, MAG has trained and been supervising a team from the FDN to destroy surplus and obsolete weapons and ammunition.
In 2009-2010, MAG also supported the civilian disarmament campaign by destroying SALW surrendered by the population to the Commission for SALW and Civilian Disarmament.
MAG’s contribution helps reduce the risks of accidents (such as ammunition depots explosions) and – by improving the security and the management of SALW – limit the risks of leakage of state-owned weapons into criminal hands, contributing to a decrease in armed violence in Burundian society.
Since 2007, MAG has destroyed over 20,000 hand grenades, a significant achievement in the context of armed violence in Burundi where hand grenades are a weapon of choice. Over 17,000 other weapons have also been destroyed.
All of MAG’s Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM) activities in Burundi are conducted in the framework of the Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control, and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa, and support the implementation of the UN Programme of Action (UNPoA) on SALW, and of the Geneva Declaration on armed violence and development.
In 2010-2011, MAG also supported the Government of Burundi in the Humanitarian Mine Action sector. [See also: Responding quickly to landmine threat]
Following a survey of suspected areas, in 2011 MAG trained and supervised a team from the national Mine Action Authority (DAHMi) to clear the last Confirmed Hazardous Areas in Burundi and therefore achieve Burundi’s engagements towards the Article 5 of the Ottawa Convention.
At the end of the project, the Government now has an autonomous capacity to intervene on Explosive Ordnance Disposal emergency tasks (such as unexploded grenades following a criminal attack). Currently, MAG is looking for funding to continue the collection and destruction of SALW in the three remaining Military Regions, as well as for the rehabilitation of armouries and ammunition depots, and the training of armourers.
MAG’s contribution reduces the risks of accidents and – by improving the security and the management of SALW – limits the risks of leakage of state-owned weapons into civilian or rebel hands, thereby contributing to a decrease in the burden of armed violence on the Burundian society.
The clearance work also freed up land for agriculture in a country where land is extremely scarce and land conflicts frequent, and allowed maintenance on essential electrical power infrastructure.
More about MAG's work in Burundi
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