Between 2002 and 2011 Ivory Coast suffered two civil wars and endured a decade as a divided nation. Hundreds of people died. The first war lasted until 2007, the second was a short-lived, post-election conflict that led to the arrest of former President Laurent Gbagbo in April 2011.
The unsecured and unsafe storage of weapons and ammunition belonging to national authorities has left the people of the Ivory Coast at risk. The risk of explosions within vast ammunition stockpiles and large-scale theft and proliferation of weapons and ammunition is still a concern.
HALO has been active in Ivory Coast since May 2011. Our mission is to work with the government as part of a security sector reform programme. We aim to provide support for the clearance of the debris of war, disarmament and stockpile management.
Funded by the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), our technical specialists have built and rehabilitated 188 armouries and ammunition stores belonging to the police, military, customs agency and gendarmerie, bringing standards into line with international regulations. As part of this process, weapons and ammunition are collected and destroyed. So far we have collected almost 14,000 weapons, destroyed over 12,000 firearms and disposed of 184 metric tonnes of ammunition, from grenades to aircraft bombs. We have also given training to the national authorities, to enable them to work independently. HALO also supported the UN and national authorities in the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) of former combatants for the duration of the UN mission.
We are grateful for the support of UNMAS in Ivory Coast. The government is supportive of our work and can see the lasting effect. However, the sustained presence of our construction and ammunition technical specialists is vital to the continuing mission and further funding is essential to help bring lasting stability and prosperity back to the country.