MAG in Mali

Landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) are endangering lives and hindering humanitarian aid in Mali, while the proliferation of firearms and other weapons are a threat to stability.

Mother and child in Mali

A family in Ségou, where MAG`s arms management and destruction work began in 2015.

Photo: Sean Sutton/MAG

The problems

Why MAG is in Mali

Conflict in northern Mali between rebel groups and Government forces, as well as fighting between the Tuaregs and various Islamist groups, has left the region highly affected by landmines and (unexploded ordnance) UXO.

This contamination threatens the lives of the most vulnerable – particularly refugees, internally displaced people and those returning home after conflict.

The Malian population require many kinds of aid, including food, healthcare, water and sanitation, but humanitarian organisations looking to provide this lifesaving assistance are struggling to do so safely due to the risks posed by UXO.

Weapons proliferation

The recent conflict is an example of the devastation that the uncontrolled proliferation of conventional weapons can bring to a country and the surrounding region.

Existing instability and tensions between ethnic populations and political divisions can rapidly escalate into conflict when a large number of weapons are in circulation.

The uncontrolled flow of weapons from Libya was instrumental in fuelling the armed rebellion in Mali, which resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries, significant displacement of populations, and increased political tension throughout the region.

 

MALI PHOTO GALLERY: CLICK ON IMAGE TO VIEW

Armoury in Mali

How MAG is helping in Mali

MAG delivers risk education to ensure that local communities, refugees and displaced people in Mali keep themselves safe when exposed to the dangers of landmines and UXO.

MAG also conducts non-technical survey, collecting information about the presence, type, distribution and surrounding environment of mines and UXO, to better define where the contamination is. This allows better prioritisation of clearance.

MAG is working with local communities to develop a network of Community Focal Points. This involves training men, women, young people, teachers and traditional leaders to share safety messages and collect data relating to accident victims and levels of contamination within communities.

ARMS MANAGEMENT AND DESTRUCTION

MAG is also working with the authorities in Mali to improve arms and ammunition management, as part of our regional Sahel-West Africa programme.

This Arms Management and Destruction (AMD) work has two main aims:

(1) To reduce the risk and impact of  unplanned explosions at munitions sites.

(2) To reduce the risk of arms being diverted to the illicit market and its resulting human impact.

AMD has become a priority for many states that have amassed large stockpiles due to conflict, cross-border insecurity and the prevalence of non-state armed groups.

Likewise, the international community has recognised the need to reduce the risk of diversion and unplanned explosions by encouraging better control of weapons and munitions stores.

MAG's AMD activities include:

• Technical risk assessments of weapons and munitions stores

• Cutting of small arms and light weapons

• Specialist training

• Refurbishment of armouries and munitions depots to make them safer and more secure

• Destruction of unserviceable small arms ammunition.Securing weapons and ammunition to avoid a similar chain of events is vital to prevent further conflict, protect civilians and ensure peace and economic development.

Reducing the risk of illicit proliferation of weapons and ammunition

In October 2014, we conducted technical risk assessments of 32 weapons storage facilities in Segou, Sikasso, Kayes and Koulikoro, in cooperation with the Bonn International Centre for Conversion, the National Small Arms and Light Weapons Commission and the Malian Defence and Security Forces.

Following the assessment, MAG proposed initial intervention plans to the national authorities that included the construction and rehabilitation of small arms storage facilities, destruction of ammunition, and training of personnel in weapons and ammunition management.

MAG began operations in early 2015 in Ségou and Sikasso, with the rehabilitation and construction of 17 weapons storage facilities, and the training of storekeepers and managers in weapons and ammunition management.

By helping the Malian Defence and Security Forces to improve management of their weapons and ammunition, MAG contributes to improved security in Mali and the wider region through reducing the risk of illicit proliferation of weapons and ammunition.

Before and after:

Unsecured weapons in Mali

Unsecured weapons at storage facilities are susceptible to leakage onto the black market. 

Secured weapons in Mali

An armoury refurbished after an assessment by MAG. Gun racks and locks like these can significantly reduce the risk of diversion.

Photos: Sean Sutton/MAG