BURUNDI: MAG Destroys 20,000 Grenades in Effort to Reduce Violence in Burundi
MAG's projects in Burundi work to limit the flow of weapons onto the black market.
Earlier this year, MAG, working with local authorities, destroyed the 20,000th hand grenade in Burundi. Armed violence is a reality of life in Burundi, where hand grenades - widely available, easily concealed, simple to use and indiscriminate - are the weapons of choice for criminals and those intent on disrupting the peace. In 2008, 22 per cent of armed violence acts registered by the UNDP in the country involved grenades.
Over half of the grenades destroyed by MAG and the Burundian State since January 2008 were part of the Police Nationale du Burundi (PNB) - Burundian police - stocks or had been seized by thePNB.Earlier this year, MAG, working with local authorities, destroyed the 20,000th hand grenade in Burundi. Armed violence is a reality of life in Burundi, where hand grenades - widely available, easily concealed, simple to use and indiscriminate - are the weapons of choice for criminals and those intent on disrupting the peace. In 2008, 22 percent of armed violence acts registered by the UNDP in the country involved grenades.
They were collected by the MAG-PNB mobile team during a comprehensive Physical Security and Stockpile Management project that includes the removal and destruction of SALW obsolete or surplus to requirements. The goal of this project is to limit the leakage of state-owned SALW that could feed the black market for weapons, fuelling instability and armed violence.
Over 500 hand grenades were part of obsolete ammunition destroyed by the Force de Defense Nationale (FDN), the Burundian army, and the rest had been handed over by the population to the national SALW commission (Commission de Desarmement Civil et de Lutte Contre la Proliferation des ALPC) during the civilian disarmament campaign of October 2009, to which MAG brought technical support.
Hand grenades are frequently used by bandits, who explode them before leaving crime scenes, as well as in local disputes over family and land issues.
They were recently used on a massive scale to disrupt the electoral process: during the weeks prior to the June presidential elections the number of grenades thrown averaged 50 per week3, often with clear politically-motivated targets. They were also thrown in public places to create a physical and psychological effect, to discourage the population to go out and vote.
Another consequence of the wide availability of grenades is that accidents regularly happen. It is unfortunately very common for children to find abandoned or lost grenades and play with them, unaware of the risks.
Despite the efforts and commitment of the Burundian Government to disarm civilians, recent events have shown that hand grenades remain widely available in the population.
MAG's projects in Burundi work to limit the further flow of SALW onto the black market by supporting the Government to secure its SALW stocks, as well as ensuring that the grenades seized or collected from the population are effectively destroyed and do not fall again into the wrong hands.
The destruction of obsolete, surplus, seized and handed-over SALW by MAG in Burundi has been supported by the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Development Program.
July 10, 2010