In partnership with the US Government, MAG has destroyed more than 30,000 illicit weapons to curb the proliferation of illegal arms in West Africa.
We have also helped to make safe and secure some 118,000 small arms and light weapons in the region since 2017 thanks to a funding package of some $17 million from the US State Department’s Office for Weapons Removal and Abatement.
The statistics were revealed as Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, the US Government’s Under-Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, met with representatives from MAG at the US Embassy in Cotonou to discuss security programming in Benin.
MAG’s Regional Director for West Africa and Sahel, David Willey, thanked Ambassador Jenkins for US support and said the partnership between the two organisations had also enabled the construction or rehabilitation of 450 armouries and ammunition stores.
Mr Willey also told the US delegation that about 10 million ammunition items had been secured and 995 US tons of ammunition had been destroyed in West Africa thanks to US funding.
In Benin itself, where MAG has been working since 2020, the charity has delivered assessments of weapons storage facilities and explosives storehouses, managed the destruction of 146 US tons of obsolete ammunition and trained members of the Beninese Armed Forces in ammunition disposal.
Mr Willey said: “Arms and ammunition proliferation contributes to insecurity, crime and armed violence globally, disproportionately affecting women, young people and marginalised groups, while the insecure storage of ammunition can lead to devastating unplanned explosions.
“There is an urgent and ongoing need to take a multi-faceted approach to prevent illegal weapons proliferating across West Africa, working closely with government and security forces in the region.
“In Benin, the expansion of urban areas in Cotonou and Porto-Novo also puts civilians dangerously close to storage facilities, presenting even further risks. Destroying obsolete and surplus ammunition is crucial to protecting lives.
“Thanks to the political will of Benin, as well as other countries in the region, and the leadership provided by ECOWAS, a great deal of work can be done if support is provided by the international community.
“The support we receive from the US government is invaluable to our work in the region.”
MAG provides support to more than 20 states across Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region, aiming to reduce armed violence through programmes to keep safe, mark or destroy small arms, light weapons and ammunition, as well as providing training for security forces.
The meeting in Benin came in the same week as the United Nations’ first International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, designed to raise awareness and better understanding of disarmament and non-proliferation issues with the public.
Find more information about our work to reduce armed violence and manage weapons and ammunition here.