Since independence in 1960, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been locked in a spiral of armed conflict resulting in nationwide contamination of explosive remnants of war (ERW), landmines and cluster-munitions. Ongoing armed conflicts and the associated increase in contamination also contribute to exacerbate the already difficult living conditions faced by the populace.
Inadequate weapons and ammunition security in the region remains another pressing concern at national and international level as recently captured by Security Council Resolutions (SCR) 2277 and 2293. Few national security institution storage facilities comply with the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines (IATGs) and the International Small Arms Control Standards (ISACS). Notably, the Congolese National Police (PNC) does not presently have the capacity to safely manage and store weapons. Without an alternative solution, weapons and ammunition are stored either in DRC Armed Forces (FARDC) facilities or kept in private residences. This lack of weapons regulation and control impacts upon the ability of the PNC to fulfil its mandate and contributes to the proliferation of weapons towards illegal armed groups in the region. The delay to hold elections initially planned for 2016 could increase instability further underlining the urgency to address weapons and ammunition security issues.
Although the Government of the DRC (GoDRC) is responsible for all humanitarian demining activities since January 2016 through the National Mine Action Authority (CCLAM), UNMAS continues to strengthen its capacities towards compliance with Article 5 of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) and the clearance of all remaining suspected hazardous areas (SHAs), as identified in the National Landmine Contamination Survey (NLCS).
In compliance with SCR 2098 (2013) and 2277 (2016), the UNMAS programme in the DRC is running two separate projects: one dedicated to explosive hazard management activities in support of the GoDRC as part of One UN, and the other in support of MONUSCO mandated activities (see separate factsheet for further detail).
UNMAS embeds the guiding principles of national ownership, gender mainstreaming and conflict sensitivity in all its activities, namely:
Weapons and Ammunition Management (WAM): UNMAS continues to encourage national institutions to increase weapons and ammunition safety standards. Furthermore, UNMAS has commenced a number of WAM capacity enhancement projects in support of the PNC, with a focus on weapons marking and control and training in basic WAM. UNMAS is supporting the GoDRC in the development of a national action plan on small arms and light weapons (SALW) which aims to reduce the risks posed to civilians by the proliferation of weapons and ammunition, and continues to actively engage with the donor community to widen its scope of support.
Survey and Clearance: UNMAS in collaboration with CCLAM has coordinated the survey, clearance and release of SHAs throughout the DRC. To date, 65 per cent of the SHAs identified have been cleared and handed over. If the current pace of clearance is maintained, the DRC may become free from the known effect of mines, and thereby Ottawa Treaty compliant, before the target date of 01 January 2021 subject to availability of adequate funding to clear the remaining areas.
Armed Violence Reduction (AVR): to promote community safety, safer behaviour around weapons and ammunition, and to raise awareness on the dangers of ERW and small arms and light weapons (SALW), UNMAS and its implementing partners carry out risk education (RE) in conflict-affected communities. Channels for conveying RE messages include organized RE sessions, radio broadcasting in local languages, SMS campaigns, public events and the distribution of leaflets.
Through such activities, UNMAS contributes to the implementation of the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), the DRC Humanitarian Action Plan (HAP), the Peace and Security Cooperation Framework (PSCF), the revised International Security and Stabilisation Support Strategy (ISSSS), the Stabilisation and Reconstruction of the East of DRC (STAREC) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
USD 2.45 million from the Governments of Japan, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland as well as the UNA Sweden fund all activities in support to the GoDRC and One UN. UNMAS also benefits from the contribution from Switzerland through in-kind personnel.
In support of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (GoDRC), the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) conducts joint operations with the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC) to neutralize illegal armed groups that continue to destabilize the country. In particular, the ongoing armed conflict in eastern DRC, and the associated build-up of explosive remnants of war (ERW), has exacerbated the already difficult living conditions faced by the populace. The presence of these explosive hazards poses a significant risk to civilians on a daily basis.
Inadequate weapons and ammunition security in the region remains a pressing concern both at national level and within the broader international community. Notably, the Congolese National Police (PNC) does not presently have the capacity to safely manage and store their unmarked weapons, and without an alternative solution, they either store weapons in their private residences or in the FARDC facilities. Furthermore, most of these facilities do not meet the minimum international standards. This not only impacts upon the ability of the PNC to fulfil their role as national security institution, but this lack of weapons regulation also contributes to the proliferation of weapons to illegal armed groups in the region.
In compliance with Security Council Resolutions 2098 (2013) and 2277 (2016), the UNMAS programme in the DRC is running two separate projects, dividing explosive hazard management in support of MONUSCO mandated activities and activities in support of the GoDRC as part of One UN (see separate factsheet).
UNMAS embeds the guiding principles of national ownership, gender mainstreaming and conflict sensitivity in all its activities. Moreover, this support focuses on the achievement of MONUSCO’s mandated objectives under the Mission’s ‘Three Pillars’ and associated ‘Big 4 Priorities’ (combating armed groups, Restoration of State Authority (RoSA), election support and human rights). The Pillars are:
UNMAS mitigates the threat posed by ERW to civilians before, during and after MONUSCO Force operations against illegal armed groups. UNMAS is also on emergency standby to react to ERW that pose an immediate threat to civilians, and to conduct rapid assessment and clearance as requested by both national authorities and civilians.
In order to facilitate MONUSCO Force operations against illegal armed groups and to assist sustainable RoSA efforts, UNMAS destroys obsolete or surrendered weapons and ammunition as required.
UNMAS continues to encourage national institutions to increase weapons, ammunition and stockpile safety in line with SCR 2277. UNMAS provided support to the PNC through training in safe weapons and ammunition management, and the provision of safe storage solutions in the Mission’s area of responsibility (AoR).
For the 2016/2017 fiscal year, UNMAS received USD 2.8 million to provide EOD Support to the Mission. UNMAS provided further weapons and ammunition stockpile management and EOD support to the Mission through an USD 999,400 MONUSCO underspend from FY 2015/2016.
Updated: January 2017