MAG has made safe thousands of tons of explosive materials in improved storage facilities in Beirut — in collaboration with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and with the multi-million-dollar support of the US government.
The US Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement has provided $1.6m to make safe ammunition stored at three sites in and close to Beirut, Lebanon.
“The explosion at Beirut port last August emphasizes the importance of ensuring the safe storage of explosive items and materials, especially when such storage facilities are in close proximity to civilians, vital institutions and infrastructure," explains the US Ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy C. Shea. "The US Government is assisting the Lebanese authorities in their commitment to the highest standards of safety and security in relation to munitions storage.”
MAG delivers weapons and ammunition management projects globally and, in Lebanon, was asked to identify practical steps to improve the safety, security and management of LAF ammunition.
This expert assessment was followed by the construction of a brand-new storage facility, improvements to two existing facilities and training for staff in ammunition management.
“Ensuring the safety and security of ammunition storage is a high priority for the Lebanese authorities to reduce the risk of unplanned explosions which might kill or injure civilians or damage community infrastructure," says GL. Brigade aviator Ziad Haikal, of the Lebanese Armed Forces. "We thank the US Government and MAG for this collaboration to help keep communities safe in our country.”
MAG also delivered post-blast emergency interventions in the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion in August last year — conducting urgent infrastructure repair at an armed forces munitions store located in the port area of the city.
The blast was not connected to the storage of armed forces munitions but it did prompt the LAF to accelerate its review of the safety of its ammunition storage sites and to bring forward its programme of improvement.
The US government has now pledged a further $3.5m of funding for MAG to undertake medium- and long-term improvements to six priority LAF facilities while delivering ammunition management training to 45 LAF personnel.
Of MAG’s weapons and ammunition management work in Lebanon, CEO Darren Cormack says: “Ammunition and explosives may deteriorate or become damaged unless they are correctly stored, handled and transported, becoming dangerous and unstable. This is a global problem – as we have seen most recently and tragically in Equatorial Guinea – and the Lebanese and US authorities must be commended for taking proactive steps to address these risks.”