During 2002-2011 Ivory Coast suffered two civil wars and endured a decade as a divided nation with separate administrations, culminating in a post electoral crisis and a short lived conflict that led to the arrest of former President Gbagbo in April 2011.
The following month HALO deployed a small team to conduct an emergency survey to investigate rumours and allay fears about the use of landmines in the conflict. We concluded that while landmines had not been used, there were widespread problems with weapons and ammunition security.
We started a programme of security upgrades across the country in support of the Ivorian Police, Military and Gendarmerie, incorporating training for the Ivorians in the destruction of unserviceable and unwanted weapons and ammunition.
This programme will bring standards for weapons and ammunition storage of Ivorian government into line with international regulations, as well as providing expertise in destroying items that are either unsafe or unwanted. This will ensure that weapons and ammunition are stored safely, securely and in an accountable manner.
Support for Demobilisation
Now that peace and good order has been established in the Ivory Coast, a process of demobilisation, disarmament and re-integration is underway.
To support this process we are providing technical assistance and specialist cover at all disarmament events, where weapons are surrendered by former combatants to the authorities, kick-starting the stabilisation process.
Weapons & Ammunition Disposal (WAD)
We are assisting both the United Nations and the Ivorian authorities in the destruction of unserviceable and unwanted firearms and ammunition.
This includes the safe disposal of old and unsafe stockpiles of munitions.This process of destroying small arms and other weapons promotes confidence in the general security of the country, and prevents bad ammunition being put into storage. As part of this process we provided advice and technical support to the Force Republicain de Cote d’Ivoire in the destruction of the country’s last remaining known stocks of anti-personnel mines.
So far HALO has destroyed over 8,300 firearms and nearly 100 tonnes of ammunition in Ivory Coast.
Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM)
HALO’s assessment in 2011 identified serious issues with ammunition storage and armouries in Ivory Coast. Substandard armouries had been easily looted during the crisis with thousands of weapons being stolen from stores.
The state of ammunition stores was also a serious concern given their poor conditions and proximity to urban areas. The improper storage of ammunition can lead to serious accidents such as in September 2011, when an ammunition store in the town of Daloa, Ivory Coast, mass detonated killing one person and injuring several more. This was a real awakening to the dangers of the country’s ammunition storage and the urgent need to address the problem.
Following this incident, HALO has worked closely with the Ivorian national authorities and United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) to successfully build and renovate 123 armouries and 58 ammunition storage areas across Ivory Coast. This ranges from the rehabilitation of small scale armouries to the new construction of large scale ammunition storage areas. HALO’s work in Ivory Coast is regarded as one of the most successful PSSM programmes to have been undertaken in an immediate post conflict environment.
HALO has provided training to the Ivorian national authorities to develop their capacity to safely manage and dispose of weapons and ammunition.
This has included training courses in the International Small Arms Control Standards, running DDR events as well as providing Explosive Ordnance Disposal training to members of the Ivorian security forces. This will enable the Ivorian national authorities to safely deal with any unsafe ordnance and ammunition found in the country.