The security situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) deteriorated in 2013. Large quantities of weapons, obsolete ammunition, explosive remnants of war (ERW) and small ammunition are continuously circulating in the country. Armed groups such as Ex-Séléka and Anti-Balaka seized these weapons and they were dispersed throughout the civilian population.
Adding to the humanitarian and security risk is the existence of large quantities of ammunition in inappropriate storage facilities around the capital, Bangui. Poor storage conditions, non-existent ammunition management and a lack of physical security place civilians and local infrastructure at risk. At the request of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in CAR (BINUCA) and national authorities, UNMAS deployed to CAR in January 2014. Shortly thereafter, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2149 (2014), establishing the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), which assigned UNMAS the task of restoring a more secure humanitarian environment. MINUSCA’s mandate was renewed under resolution 2301 (2016), calling “upon the CAR Authorities and international partners and relevant United Nations entities, in coordination with MINUSCA and United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), to address the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation, and misuse of small arms and light weapons in the CAR, and to ensure the safe and effective management, storage and security of stockpiles of small arms and light weapons, and the collection and/or destruction of surplus, seized, unmarked, or illicitly held weapons and ammunition, and further stresses the importance of incorporating such elements into SSR and DDR/R programmes.”
In November 2016, UNMAS sensitized a total of 1,814 workers participating in the Londo project implemented by the World Bank. They organized 36 risk education sessions on explosive remnants of war and small arms ammunition. The Londo project is a THIMO project which offers temporary employment opportunities for African youth. UNMAS supported them in terms of risk education to sensitize workers and the young people involved. In addition, following a request from UNDP, non-technical surveys (NTS) were conducted by UNMAS on a site which was occupied by armed groups and identified by CAR authorities to house a new unit of the Central African gendarmerie. Following this NTS, the site was declared safe by teams of UNMAS. Then, on December 1 (Central African Independence Day), UNMAS started the pre-launch of its campaign for moto-taxis: indeed, the bikers were circulated during the parade of Independence Day with UNMAS red vests showing awareness messages on the risks of explosives and small arms and light weapons, while also displaying a general slogan about the importance of road safety. In the future, UNMAS will expand its campaign to the whole Central African Republic territory.
To support the MINUSCA’s mandate working under the pillar of the Protection of Civilians, UNMAS performs the following tasks:
The establishment of a national programme for weapons and ammunition management requires a close coordination and consistent support from the CAR Government. UNMAS is working with the national and internal security forces to develop its capacity. One of the objectives of this collaboration is the construction of a permanent ammunition depot which requires common strategic planning. The major challenge remains the limited access to logistics resources and supply of goods and services, which are essential for implementing weapons and ammunition infrastructure projects. Finally, the establishment of an effective national monitoring mechanism to regulate and coordinate WAM and EOD activities (removal and destruction of explosives) is essential to enhance national capacities. The volatile security situation remains a constraint in the implementation of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process which may also dissuade armed groups to hand-over their weapons and ammunition.
UNMAS CAR is funded by the MINUSCA’s assessed budget until June 2017. The programme has identified a funding gap of $ 4,536,676 to implement an armoury project mandated by the Sanctions Committee in the 16 prefectures of the country and will seek funding through the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action.
Updated: January 2017