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Mismanagement of weapons worries AU

Poorly secured and managed ammunition sites in African countries has become the biggest threat to peace on the continent

AU Regional Representative to Southern Africa, Auguste Ngomo, said non-state groups are using ammunition and explosive material sourced from poorly secured and managed ammunition sites on the continent to build deadly improvised explosive devices.

“From the Sahel region and Lake Chad Basin, to the horn of Africa, the improvised explosive devices now represent the largest threat facing peace support operations, causing significant casualties among troops, hindering the movement of patrols,” Ngomo said.

Ngomo was speaking in Lilongwe on Monday during the inception and stakeholder consultation workshop on the safe and secure management of ammunition in Malawi.

“In addition to their adverse impact in conflict situations, poorly managed ammunition can cause devastating unplanned explosions at ammunition sites, which pose a great risk for civilians, the environment and the infrastructure, resulting in numerous deaths, injuries, displacement and financial losses…,” he said.

The workshop is being held in line with an agreement made during the AU’s Peace and Security Council meeting of March 2016. In the meeting, it was agreed that member states should implement effective and sustainable physica l security and stockpile management in line with international standards and best practices.

Malawi Defence Force (MDF) Deputy Commander (Operations and Training), Vincent Nundwe, said the MDF will benefit a lot from the initiative, saying they have been facing some challenges in as far as the management of arms and ammunition is concerned.

“This is evidenced by such incidences as ammo explosion in our ammo-store houses, increased failure rate of our ammo, as well as civilian casualties in our surrounding areas,” Nundwe said.

The participants to the workshop are expected to assess MDF’s ammunitions sites.

“This is very important as it is going to enable experts here identify gaps in our safety and security measures in terms of arms and ammunition management,” Nundwe added.

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