printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

2012 To Walk the Earth in Safety: Africa


Report
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
July 1, 2012

Share

Date: 2012 Description: Total U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction Funding In Africa From All Sources, 1993-2011: $301,555,000. This chart shows the percentage of total funding allocated to each country within the region. - State Dept Image
Total U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction Funding In Africa From All Sources, 1993-2011: $301,555,000. This chart shows the percentage of total funding allocated to each country within the region. Click for larger size.

Africa, the world’s second most populous and second largest continent, encompasses 55 diverse nations. Following decades of civil war, in 2011 South Sudan became the world’s newest country by democratic referendum. With most of the continent at peace, much of Africa is slowly recovering economically and socially from decades of armed conflicts that have killed, injured, displaced and impoverished millions. Nigeria and Burundi declared themselves “mine-free” in late 2011. Elsewhere, explosive remnants of war and landmines injure thousands annually. Several countries still face conflict. Despite its abundant natural resources and gradual reforms, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development, three fourths of the African population still lives in poverty.

Angola

Angola’s war for independence in the 1960s was followed by nearly three decades of civil war, ending in 2002. These conflicts left Angola’s 18 provinces contaminated with landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) and made Angola the most mine-affected country in Africa. Though total injuries and deaths from landmines are unknown, the Landmine and Cluster Munitions Monitor estimates that there have been between 23,000–80,000 casualties in Angola. In addition, thousands of refugees continue to be resettled in the mine-affected Moxico province. Angola estimates that tens of thousands of small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) are in civilian hands; even more are in poorly secured government stockpiles. The destruction of SA/LW and the clearance of mine-affected infrastructure, fields, and communities are essential for development and prosperity in the region.

Date: 2012 Description: Thousands of surplus weapons await destruction by The HALO Trust's Weapons and Ammunition Destruction team in Luanda, Angola.  - State Dept Image
Thousands of surplus weapons await destruction by The HALO Trust’s Weapons and Ammunition Destruction team in Luanda, Angola. Photo courtesy of Darren Manning, PM/WRA, U.S. Dept. of State.

Since FY1995, funding from the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) has resulted in the clearance of 19,206,643 square meters (more than 7 square miles) of land and 6,650 kilometers (4,132 miles) of road, and the destruction of 90,999 SA/LW and 1,280 tons of munitions. In 2011 alone, PM/WRA-supported efforts identified and disposed of 3,600 mines.

In FY2011, PM/WRA granted $7.5 million to support the work of international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Angola:

• The HALO Trust (HALO) received funding to clear 849,600 square meters (210 acres) of land, survey 90 potentially hazardous sites, conduct 100 post-clearance community interviews, and destroy 10,000 SA/LW and 70 tons of munitions. The government of Angola also provided funding to support the destruction of SA/LW.

• MAG (Mines Advisory Group) was granted funding to clear 552,000 square meters (136 acres) of land, conduct 100 mine risk education sessions, and complete 660 explosive-ordnance disposal (EOD) spot tasks in the Moxico province.

• Norwegian People’s Aid received funding to clear 750,000 square meters (185 acres) of land in Malanje and Uige provinces, to reduce or clear 140 suspected hazardous areas, and to conduct 150 EOD spot tasks.

PM/WRA plans to fund $8.48 million in Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related Programs and conventional weapons destruction through these international NGOs in FY2012.

Also in FY2011, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Research and Development (HD R&D) Program in partnership with HALO, continued a technology evaluation of the Rotary Mine Comb (RMC). The RMC’s intermeshing tines gently extricate large buried objects, including anti-tank (AT) mines, from the soil and push them to the side of the host vehicle’s path. HALO has reported positive clearance results with the RMC in sandy soil, clearing 32 kilometers (20 miles) of road since 2008 and 46 low-metal AT mines, which are undetectable by metal detectors. While the progress seems modest, the impact is considerable given the alternative is hand excavation of the road. The RMC is locating mines that are otherwise undetectable on roads that, though previously cleared by heavy detonation trailers, persist in having AT mine accidents. The completed, mine-free road will reconnect more than 200,000 people in southeast Cuando Cubango province with the rest of Angola. With total assistance valued at $850,000, the HD R&D Program also continued the evaluation of a JCB Loadall with HALO. To learn more about the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Program, visit http://humanitarian-demining.org.

Burundi

Date: 2012 Description: Weapons being destroyed by cutting at the Weapons Destruction Workshop in Bujumbura, Burundi.  © Photo courtesy of Karen Hatungimana, MAG Burundi
Weapons being destroyed by cutting at the Weapons Destruction Workshop in Bujumbura, Burundi. Photo courtesy of Karen Hatungimana, MAG Burundi.

In November 2011, Burundi declared itself mine-free, three years ahead of schedule, meeting its Article 5 obligations to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction. Major clearance operations by DanChurchAid and the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action were completed in 2008, and MAG (Mines Advisory Group) cleared the remaining contamination.

Despite this accomplishment, three decades of civil war and genocide have left Burundi’s new democracy in a fragile security situation, exacerbated by the widespread proliferation and availability of small arms and light weapons (SA/LW). In addition, large, poorly secured and maintained stockpiles of aging ammunition also pose a significant threat to civilians in Burundi.

From FY2006–FY2011, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) provided $2,293,925 for conventional weapons destruction, resulting in the destruction of 9,000 SA/LW, 312 man-portable air-defense systems, and nearly 75 tons of munitions. PM/WRA also supported the construction of 38 secure micro-armories for the National Police in Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital.

In FY2011, PM/WRA provided funding to MAG to destroy 7,000 SA/LW and 70 tons of munitions in Burundi. Additionally, MAG trained 20 Burundian National Defense Force personnel to International Mine Action Standards Explosive Ordnance Disposal Level I.

Since 2006, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) has provided stockpile management assistance to the Burundi military and police. In October 2010, DTRA’s SA/LW Program conducted a technical level arms, ammunition, and explosives physical security and stockpile management seminar in Bujumbura. Participants included 46 Burundi national police officers with direct stockpile management responsibilities. In November 2010, DTRA facilitated a tour of important U.S. officials to storage and destruction facilities in Burundi.

Also in FY2011, U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) conducted one training mission with Burundi engineers in explosive ordnance disposal and explosive remnants of war operations. In FY2012, USAFRICOM, in partnership with PM/WRA and DTRA, will coordinate efforts to train Burundi humanitarian mine-action personnel in identification, destruction, and management of existing stockpiles with three training missions supported by the Combined Joint Task Force–Horn of Africa.

Chad

Resulting from internal conflicts extending back to 1965 and an invasion by Libya in 1973, Chad is extensively contaminated by landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). According to the Landmine and Cluster Munitions Monitor, there were 2,830 known landmine casualties at the end of 2010, but the full extent of contamination in Chad has not been quantified.

In FY2011, U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) conducted one humanitarian mine-action (HMA) mission focused on explosive-ordnance disposal (EOD)/ ERW in Chad. In FY2012, U.S. Army Africa is planning to conduct three missions to continue to build the capacity of the Chad National Demining Authority (CND) by providing further instruction in EOD/ERW operations and medical first-responder techniques. The missions will also focus on the development of a CND training center to provide long-term HMA instruction.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Date: 2012 Description: During International Day for Mine Awareness in Bunia, DRC, an Indonesian peacekeeper demonstrates robotic mine-detection equipment.  © Photo courtesy of U.N./Martine Perret
During International Day for Mine Awareness in Bunia, DRC, an Indonesian peacekeeper demonstrates robotic mine-detection equipment. Photo courtesy of U.N./Martine Perret.

From 1996–2003, between three and five million people died as a result of armed conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). These conflicts also left the country widely contaminated by landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). In addition, the resulting proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) has led to cross-border trafficking and violence and poorly secured government weapon stockpiles that threaten local populations.

From FY2006 through FY2011, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) invested $6,098,462 in weapons and munitions destruction and humanitarian mine-action support in DRC. In FY2011, PM/WRA provided $1,015,775 in funding the following international nongovernmental organizations to continue this work:

• MAG (Mines Advisory Group) received funding to destroy at least 11,000 SA/LW and 110 tons of munitions.

• Handicap International received grants to support the training and deployment by U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) of demining teams from DRC’s army, Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC).

In September 2009, DRC requested assistance from USAFRICOM to help reestablish a mine-action company, previously trained by the Belgium Army in 2002 in Kisangani. Eight training missions in explosive-ordnance disposal (EOD) and mine action in 2009 and 2010 helped to build the FARDC Engineer Company’s capacity. From 2009 through 2011, USAFRICOM provided $200,000 for start-up costs, equipment, and training aids for EOD/ERW courses. As a result of these efforts, FARDC instructors have taught the last two courses. In FY2012, U.S. Army Africa will conduct four missions to continue to build FARDC Engineer Company’s EOD training capacity.

At the request of the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, the SA/LW Program of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) conducted two physical security and stockpile management seminars (one technical and one executive seminar) for FARDC in Kinshasa in March 2011. This was DTRA’s first mission to DRC.

In FY2012, PM/WRA plans to fund MAG to continue weapons and munitions destruction, train FARDC members in safe SA/LW and ammunition handling, and provide basic physical security upgrades at munitions storage facilities.

Ethiopia

Landmines and explosive remnants of war contaminate Ethiopia as a result of internal and international conflicts dating as far back as 1935. According to the Landmine and Cluster Munitions Monitor, there had been 16,849 known casualties due to explosives in Ethiopia as of the end of 2010.

In FY2011, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Leahy War Victims Fund provided $327,000 to the International Committee of the Red Cross to provide rehabilitation services to landmine survivors in northern Ethiopia.

At the request of the United Kingdom’s Joint Arms Control Implementation Group (JACIG), the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) joined country representatives in the Multinational Small Arms and Ammunition Group (MSAG) to teach international best practices for small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) physical security and stockpile management (PSSM). With these international representatives, MSAG conducted a PSSM seminar for the Ethiopian Federal Police in January 2011. Previously, DTRA participated in JACIG seminars in January 2009 and March 2010.

SA/LW control efforts in Ethiopia are also supported by the African Great Lakes Regional Centre on Small Arms, which receives funding from the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA).

Ghana

As in other parts of Africa, the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) into Ghana from neighboring countries presents a threat to the country’s growth and stability. In 2010, to combat arms trafficking, Ghana signed the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention on SA/LW.

At the request of the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Training Center (KAIPTC), the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s SA/LW Program provided an instructor to teach physical security and stockpile management of arms, ammunition, and explosives during the June 2011 KAIPTC SA/LW seminar. In the seminar, 63 students from the 15 ECOWAS countries were trained in stockpile management.

Guinea-Bissau

Date: 2012 Description: HUMAID deminers add an artillery shell to a collection of mortar rounds in Guinea-Bissau.   - State Dept Image
HUMAID deminers add an artillery shell to a collection of mortar rounds in Guinea-Bissau. Photo courtesy of John Stevens, PM/WRA, U.S. Dept. of State.

Guinea-Bissau was contaminated with landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) as a result of the War of Liberation (1961–1974), a civil war (1998–1999), and armed conflicts on its border with Senegal in the last decade. Despite clearance efforts, according to a survey completed by Norwegian People’s Aid in July 2011, 17 hazardous areas covering more than 250,539 square meters (about 62 acres) remained, limiting agriculture and endangering residents. In addition, surplus stocks of deteriorating and poorly secured munitions pose a significant humanitarian threat.

From FY1999–FY2010, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) granted $4.5 million for surveys, mine/ERW clearance, explosive-ordnance disposal (EOD), destruction of government stockpiles, and clearance training for humanitarian deminers in Guinea-Bissau.

In FY2011, PM/WRA granted $1 million to the following international nongovernmental organizations for further clearance work in Guinea-Bissau:

• Cleared Ground Demining received funding to assist the government of Guinea-Bissau in stockpile destruction and to conduct ERW and unexploded ordnance (UXO) spot tasks.

• HUMAID was granted funding for humanitarian mine action including demining and battle-area clearance (BAC), training for BAC and EOD teams, mine-risk education and civilian surveys on landmine locations.

At the request of the U.S. military in Dakar, Senegal, the Small Arms Light Weapons Program of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) conducted a physical security and stockpile management (PSSM) assessment of ammunition supply points in and around Guinea-Bissau’s capital, Bissau. DTRA identified excess, obsolete, and unsafe ammunition for destruction and recommended PSSM upgrades. This was DTRA’s first engagement in Guinea-Bissau.

The government of Guinea-Bissau has said that the cleared land in Bissau has helped families that depend on subsistence agriculture. As of 1 January 2012, Guinea-Bissau announced that it is mine-free, meeting its obligations as a State Party to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Antipersonnel Mines and on Their Destruction.

Kenya

In July 2010, three boys were injured by a landmine explosion on the Kenya-Uganda border according to the Landmine and Cluster Munitions Monitor. While Kenya has neither emplaced anti-personnel mines nor manufactured them, it continues to be affected by unexploded ordnance at military training ranges. In addition, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) in Kenya hinders attempts to address regional conflicts.

In February 2005, the International Mine Action Training Centre (IMATC) opened in Embakasi, Nairobi. In 2008 and 2009, U.S. Africa Command’s (USAFRICOM) Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) program trained qualified instructors to teach explosive-ordnance disposal (EOD) at International Mine Action Standard (IMAS) levels. Resulting in part from AFRICOM’s support, IMATC is now called the Humanitarian Peace Support School (HPSS) and has become a regional center for HMA and training.

In March 2011, at the request of HPSS, a representative from the SA/LW Program in the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and two HPSS representatives from Kenya and the United Kingdom conducted a physical security and stockpile management (PSSM) technical seminar for 30 participants from Kenya and Tanzania at HPSS in Nairobi. This was the fourth HPSS-led seminar in which DTRA has participated. Demonstrating the sustainability of the program, HPSS HMA instructors led all classes in FY2011. In November 2011, the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) sent two Navy EOD personnel and a medic to assist the Kenyan HMA instructors in their third stand-alone class.

CJTF-HOA will conduct two additional missions at HPSS in FY2012. Further SA/LW-control efforts in Kenya are supported by the African Great Lakes Regional Centre on Small Arms in Nairobi, Kenya, which receives funding from the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA).

Mozambique

Date: 2011 Description: Helen Gray, The HALO Trust's Program Manager for Mozambique in 2011, briefs John Stevens from the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement on mine clearance operations in the Cahora Bassa Dam area. - State Dept Image
Helen Gray, The HALO Trust’s Program Manager for Mozambique in 2011, briefs John Stevens from the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement on mine clearance operations in the Cahora Bassa Dam area. Photo courtesy of John Stevens, PM/WRA, U.S. Dept. of State.

In 1992, Mozambique emerged from almost 30 years of conflict, including the Mozambican War of Independence (1964–1974) and the Mozambican Civil War (1977–1992), as one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. According to the Landmine and Cluster Munitions Monitor, after 18 years of successful clearance operations and excluding the minefields along its border with Zimbabwe, only 322 suspected hazardous areas (SHA) covering 9.5 square kilometers (just under 4 square miles) remain. The remaining mines continue to impede farming and water access and present risks to hospitals and schools.

The U.S. is Mozambique’s largest bilateral donor, and the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) has contributed almost $32 million from FY1997–FY2011, which has helped to clear more than 50 percent of Mozambique’s land. In 2011, PM/WRA provided $2,175,000 to The HALO Trust (HALO) for 13 manual demining teams, three Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams, and one mechanical demining team to clear more than 500,000 square meters (about 124 acres) of contaminated land. HALO also used this funding to visit more than 400 SHAs and conduct mine-risk education (MRE). Mine impact free surveys were conducted in the Maputo, Manica, and Tete provinces. In FY2012, PM/WRA plans to provide $2 million to continue HALO’s ongoing work. If current efforts continue, Mozambique hopes to become mine-impact free in 2014.

U.S. Africa Command’s (USAFRICOM) initial engagement with the Fondas Armadas de Mozambique’s (FADM) Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) Company was in 2009. USAFRICOM’s 2010–2011 mission focused on EOD/ERW/battle-area clearance operations and vehicle maintenance. Resulting in part from U.S. assistance, the FADM HMA Company is well-trained and equipped and is conducting demining operations near Chokwe, three hours northwest of Maputo. In FY2012, the U.S. Naval Forces Africa will conduct three missions to continue to build FADM’s demining capacity.

In FY2011, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Research and Development (HD R&D) Program, in partnership with HALO, began the evaluation of two Orbit Screens valued at $150,000. Since January 2011, the equipment has sifted 67,000 cubic meters (87,633 cubic yards) of soil, uncovering 142 mines and items of unexploded ordnance. The Orbit Screens are clearing areas around power line pylons, providing access to critical infrastructure. To learn more about the U.S. Department of Defense’s HD R&D Program, visit http://humanitarian-demining.org.

Somalia

Date: 2012 Description: Somali children stand in a camp for internally displaced people in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.  © Photo courtesy of U.N./Stuart Price
Somali children stand in a camp for internally displaced people in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. Photo courtesy of U.N./Stuart Price.

Landmines, explosive remnants of war (ERW) and other conventional weapons and munitions have adversely affected Somalia as a result of armed conflicts stemming back to 1964. Conventional weapons and small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) trafficking is a widespread problem, particularly across Somalia’s border with Kenya. In addition, multiple abandoned stockpiles are located within civilian residential areas, and high levels of ERW contamination exist along both the southern border with Kenya and the Ethiopian border.

From FY1998–FY2008, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) provided $7,352,000 to nongovernmental organizations, including The HALO Trust (HALO), CARE International, and MAG (Mines Advisory Group) to assist in humanitarian demining, SA/LW and conventional weapons destruction (CWD), and mobile explosive-ordnance disposal (EOD) team operations.

In FY2011 PM/WRA provided grants totaling $2,325,000 as follows:

• MAG received funding for CWD and EOD operations, and limited capacity development for the Puntland Police EOD teams.

• HALO received funding for mine action and mechanical clearance activities in Somaliland to protect potential victims, restore safe access to land and infrastructure, and destroy items that could be used by terrorist groups for explosive harvesting. HALO was also funded to rehabilitate six police armories in Somaliland and provide training for the police so that the rehabilitated armories are used properly and are in line with internationally recognized standards.

• Danish Demining Group was granted funding to reduce the threat posed by landmines, ERW, and SA/LW through mine risk education, survey, and EOD in the Mudug and Galguduud regions of South central Somalia.

South Sudan

Date: 2012 Description: MAG (Mines Advisory Group) conducts mine-risk education in South Sudan.  © Photo courtesy of Geary Cox/CISR.
MAG (Mines Advisory Group) conducts mine-risk education in South Sudan. Photo courtesy of Geary Cox/CISR.

As a result of a referendum in January 2011, South Sudan became the world’s newest nation 9 July 2011. Before South Sudan’s independence, more than two decades of civil war between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army led to extensive explosive remnants of war (ERW) contamination and contributed to the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SA/LW). According to the Landmine and Cluster Munitions Monitor, as of December 2010, South Sudan has 830 remaining hazardous areas, including 68 confirmed mined areas, 567 dangerous areas, and 195 suspected hazardous areas. Additionally, evidence suggests that new mines were laid in the Jonglei, Unity, and Upper Nile provinces.

To aid in clearance efforts, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) provided $2.8 million in FY2011 as follows:

• MAG (Mines Advisory Group) received funding for an 11-person explosive-ordnance disposal (EOD) and SA/LW team and a community liaison team to remove all SA/LW and unexploded ordnance from South Sudan, as well as for survey and battle-area clearance (BAC) teams to continue operations in the Central Equatoria and Upper Nile provinces.

• Norwegian People’s Aid was granted funds for the continuation of EOD and BAC teams in the Greater Equatoria, Jonglei, and Upper Nile provinces, which allowed for the demolition of 10 stockpiles.

• The Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) continued the capacity development of the South Sudan Integrated Mine Action Center (SIMAS) with PM/WRA funding. SIMAS remains the only internationally accredited mine-action nongovernmental organization indigenous to South Sudan, and operates in Central Equatoria with two manual demining teams and one EOD team.

PM/WRA further supports SA/LW control efforts in South Sudan through its funding of the African Great Lakes Regional Centre on Small Arms in Nairobi, Kenya.

Sudan

A 22-year conflict between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army has left Sudan contaminated by landmines, explosive remnants of war (ERW), and conventional arms and munitions. The ongoing conflict in the Darfur region has also led to mine/ERW contamination. Since the late 1980s, the U.S. Government and the United Nations have been providing humanitarian assistance in Sudan. In 2005, the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement ended the civil war and allowed for the arrival of a U.N. mission, which included the initiation of a program to combat the threats posed by ERW and landmine contamination. This, in turn, led to a Landmine Impact Survey in January 2009, which identified 296 affected communities affecting 2.5 million people. Then, in July 2011, South Sudan seceded from Sudan to become the world’s newest country.

To help alleviate the contamination problem, in FY2011, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) provided $1.1 million to fund the following:

• MAG (Mines Advisory Group) received support for survey and battle-area clearance (BAC) teams to continue operations in the Blue Nile and Kassala provinces. The project surveyed 14 suspected hazardous areas and released two million square meters (494 acres) to communities through Technical and Non-technical Survey.

• DanChurchAid was funded to continue support of explosive ordnance disposal, BAC, manual demining, and survey activities for a multi-task team in Southern Kordofan, clearing 60,000 square meters (almost 15 acres) of land. PM/WRA further supports SA/LW control efforts in Sudan through its funding of the African Great Lakes Regional Centre on Small Arms in Nairobi, Kenya.

Tanzania

Date: 2012 Description: Pierre Nkurunziza, (right) President of the Republic of Burundi, and Agathon Rwasa (left) of the Palipehutu-Forces Nationales de Liberation (FNL), signing a ceasefire agreement in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.  © Photo courtesy of U.N./Penangnini Toure
Pierre Nkurunziza, (right) President of the Republic of Burundi, and Agathon Rwasa (left) of the Palipehutu-Forces Nationales de Libération (FNL), signing a ceasefire agreement in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. Photo courtesy of UN/Penangnini Toure.

In February 2011, the Gongo la Mboto ammunition storage site in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania exploded, destroying at least 160 nearby homes and causing 26 civilian deaths and injuring hundreds more. In response to a request for assistance from the government of Tanzania, U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) provided an initial training in explosive-ordnance disposal/explosive remnants of war (EOD/ERW) operations and medical first-responder services.

For FY2012, USAFRICOM has assigned Tanzania to the U.S. Naval Forces Africa, which will conduct two missions in 2012 to continue to build EOD/ERW operations capacity. Conventional weapons and munitions destruction efforts in Tanzania are also supported by the African Great Lakes Regional Centre on Small Arms in Nairobi, Kenya, which receives assistance from the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA).

REGIONAL PROGRAMS

Africa Great Lakes Region

Date: 2012 Description: Small arms and light weapons collected in the Great Lakes Region of Africa.  © Photo courtesy of U.N./Stuart Price
Small arms and light weapons collected in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Photo courtesy of UN/Stuart Price.

The Great Lakes Region of Africa, including countries surrounding Lake Kivu and Uganda, has experienced decades of civil war as non-state actors and neighboring countries vied for influence in the region. Though most major armed conflicts in the area ended in the beginning of the 21st century, the region is still plagued by a cross-border black market in small arms and light weapons (SA/LW). Non-state actors in the eastern and northern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continue to terrorize civilians and occasionally conduct cross-border operations against neighboring countries. The porous borders between DRC, Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda facilitate arms smuggling, and the resulting illicit SA/LW trafficking poses a significant challenge to peace building and stability in the region.

In 2000, governments in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa sought to address the SA/LW challenge by creating the Nairobi Protocol, a plan for legislative and civil action. As a part of this agreement, the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa (RECSA) was established in June 2005. Located in Nairobi, Kenya, the center coordinates regional activities aimed at reducing the illicit proliferation of SA/LW and implementing the Nairobi Protocol. RECSA member states comprise the countries that signed the Nairobi Agreement including: Burundi, Central African Republic, DRC, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) has provided $2,291,787 since 2006 to RECSA. These funds have purchased 26 marking machines, providing at least two for each RECSA member state, and funded two regional training seminars on SA/LW marking. More than 86,000 SA/LW have been marked with this equipment, and Rwanda and Seychelles have finished marking all police equipment. PM/WRA funds also facilitated SA/LW destruction activities and workshops focusing on man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) proliferation, arms brokering, and stockpile security. As a result, all RECSA member states have agreed to adopt MANPADS control guidelines.

In FY 2011, PM/WRA provided $300,617 in funding for the following work by international organizations in the region:

• Small Arms Survey conducted an evaluation of RECSA member states’ efforts to strengthen firearm marking and record keeping capacity, helping PM/WRA identify successes and challenges in order to maximize the impact of future funding for weapons marking and tracing programs globally.

• RECSA received funding to continue SA/LW workshops for regional governments, support SA/LW marking (including refresher training and spare parts) in member states, and to strengthen RECSA as an institution through administrative capacity-building.

Southern Africa Region

The illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) has prolonged conflicts, heightened tensions, and resulted in increased violent crime throughout Africa. In 1995, the South African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization (SARPCCO) was established to create a regional body to combat cross-border crime, including weapons trafficking, in Southern Africa. Its current members include Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

In FY2011, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) granted $700,000 to MAG (Mines Advisory Group) and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) to improve the weapons marking and tracing capacity of SARPCCO states. As a result, MAG and ISS provided 12 marking machines and training for 175 police and military personnel in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.



Back to Top
Sign-in

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.