Inside a newly secure armoury in the Democratic Republic of Congo. [Photo: MAG DRC]
MAG has begun a project to construct a safe storage area for 400 tonnes of Congolese military ammunition, thanks to US$1million funding from UNMAS1.
The initiative will combat the twin threat of deadly explosions and weapons proliferation, both of which can devastate communities.
"UNMAS specialises in weapons management, and assisting with cataloguing and stockpiling arms."
– Hervé Ladsous, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations
Poorly stored munitions can result in blasts that cause massive suffering and damage in neighbouring areas.
There have been eight such incidents at arms depots in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since 19982.
And, highlighting what is a global problem, 282 people were killed and 1,500 injured across the border in the Republic of Congo following a devastating series of explosions at a Brazzaville munitions depot on 4 March.
On top of this is the risk of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition falling into the wrong hands.
During 2011, the average number of ammunition site explosions across the world was the highest ever annual rate – almost four a month.
– Small Arms Survey
Illicit small arms have been identified as “the weapons of choice in civil wars and for terrorism, organised crime and gang warfare”, with “leaking” government stockpiles a major source of the illegal weapons and munitions in circulation3.
The need for the safe storage of munitions is clear, as is the importance of providing states with the appropriate technical support that can enable them to do so.
Working in partnership with the UN, MAG is managing the construction of the new Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) facility in Kisangani, giving technical and logistical expertise in order to guarantee the highest standard of safety for the facility and the surrounding population.
Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM) in DRC
MAG has been working with the FARDC and police (Police Nationale Congolaise – PNC) since 2006 to improve the security of the DRC's armouries and munitions stockpiles, and help the country to meet its obligations under the Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons.
In collaboration with the FARDC and PNC, we have already destroyed around 128,000 obsolete weapons, and are helping to rehabilitate armouries – through the fitting of locks, doors and weapons racks; installation of secure weapons containers; and safe separation of different types of arms – as well as training military and police armourers.
MAG is the only non-governmental organisation in DRC accredited to undertake this sensitive work, thanks in large part to the strong working relationship which has been steadily built up with all national and military authorities over the past few years.
1 The funding for this project is provided by UNMAS from the Assessed Budget of the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONSUCO) through UNOPS
2 Small Arms Survey
3 United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs
17 August 2012
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