The HALO Trust has partnered with the Douane de Cote d’Ivoire and enhanced the physical security of Small Arms and Light Weapons at critical border posts all around the Ivory Coast with funding from the British Government. This project has allowed for the provision and installation of weapons storage and safety equipment at each of twenty locations, and provided weapons accountability and safety training sessions to the personnel who work there.
A Handover ceremony was conducted on Friday 13 January 2017 to present weapons shears to the Department of Customs. The British Ambassador to the Ivory Coast, Ms. Josephine Gauld presented the shears on behalf of the British Government. A short demonstration of the shears allowed Ms. Gauld and Colonel Dah Pierre, The Director – General of the Department of Customs - to cut up a number of weapons themselves.
During the course of this project, it became clear that the challenges faced by the Customs in these remote locations included securing the large quantities of illicit weapons that they confiscate on a routine basis. The British Government understands the regional value of enhanced border security to the long-term stability of the western African sub-region.
When small projects like these are well implemented, and all partners are dedicated to the same purpose, the results can be regional in impact and long-term in duration. This new initiative supports Customs with developing the capacity for longer-term weapons management, through the provision of the ability to destroy confiscated and obsolete weaponry as part of the overall project.
The British Government has provided two sets of weapons shears to the Ivorian Authorities, with one set dedicated to the Douane de Cote d’Ivoire. These shears effectively and permanently remove light weapons from circulation and adequately cater for the requirements of the department.
HALO has carried out training in the use, maintenance and management of the shears, along with the standard International systems for record keeping during weapons destruction exercises. These records will become useful in the future for tracking the flow of illicit weapons and for dealing with the sources of such weapons in the region.
There is a clear desire in the Ivory Coast to move on from their recent conflicts. Securing the borders and removing stockpiled arms adds considerably to the security of the West African Region. It is critical that the British Government has also seen the regional value of enhanced border security to the long-term stability of the western African sub-region.