WEAPONS DESTRUCTION PROJECT ASSISTS ARMS CONTROL IN SWAZILAND
Almost a thousand weapons held by the security forces in Swaziland have been destroyed as part of a project to reduce the threat of arms proliferation in fragile and post-conflict settings.
WHAT WE DID
A total of 1,004 of weapons were destroyed between October and November 2016 by a Swaziland military team trained in weapons cutting by MAG.
Using specialist saws and shears, the team cut the weapons, then ensured the remains could not be re-used by burying them in concrete within a military controlled area. The team will now be able to continue destroying any further identified weapons using the kit and training provided by MAG.
By reducing the availability of illicit weapons, the project is lessening the risk of armed violence in Swaziland and the wider southern African region.
It is also increasing the country’s capacity to manage and control its weapons, helping it to meet its obligations under the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.
Theft and looting from state arms stores is a major problem in fragile and insecure contexts. Such arms can attract high values on the black market and are traded across porous borders, frequently even crossing continents. They sustain conflicts, fuel armed violence against ordinary people, and prevent stability, poverty reduction and development.
An example of how unsecured weapons and munitions can bring devastation is the conflict in Mali, where the uncontrolled flow of weapons from Libya was instrumental in fuelling an armed rebellion in 2012-13 that resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries, significant population displacement, and increased political tension throughout the region.
1. Weapons Destruction Training Course
Seventeen Swaziland Defence Forces (USDF) personnel were trained to effectively destroy weapons. The students now have the skills to safely and effectively destroy a range of weapons that the national authorities believe should be destroyed.
MAG’s aim of implementing such training is to reduce the risk of arms being diverted to the illicit market and its resulting human impact, in addition to supporting national ownership of a safer future for people affected by conflict and insecurity.
2. Weapons Destruction
Following successful completion of the training, the team destroyed an average of 90 weapons a day for two weeks, with 1,004 weapons destroyed in total. After the end of the weapons destruction phase, the scrap metal was transported to the USDF School of Infantry and buried in concrete under the supervision of the USDF Senior Officer and MAG Technical Field Manager.
This work with the Swaziland Defence Forces forms part of a wider project funded by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office to counter small arms and light weapons proliferation in a number of other African countries: Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and Somalia.
Page published: 22 November 2016