Africa: U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction in Africa - Stabilizing Conflict-Affected Areas and Setting the Stage for Development


Since 1993, the United States has provided more than $509 million to support Conventional Weapons Destruction (CWD) programs throughout Africa. This assistance helps create conditions for lasting security and economic growth by reducing the availability of small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) and improvised explosive device (IED) components used by terrorists and extremist groups. CWD programs also improve civilian security and lay the groundwork for sustainable development by clearing landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO).

Securing SA/LW Bolsters Regional Security

The United States is committed to building capacity across Africa to prevent the illicit proliferation of SA/LW, furthering the objectives of the Africa Union's Silencing the Guns initiative. Programs focusing on the most vulnerable regions of the Sahel, Horn of Africa, and Great Lakes have been successful in reducing the risk of weapons and ammunition diversions from government stockpiles to terrorist groups and has enabled local security partners to limit illicit weapon flows.

This support has assisted 30 African countries to secure and properly manage their conventional weapons and ammunition stockpiles, preventing illicit diversions and accidental depot explosions. This assistance has resulted in the following achievements:

The United States has built, rehabilitated, or otherwise upgraded the physical security of 539 storage facilities, focusing on sites most vulnerable to attacks. Additionally, in the Africa Great Lakes region, the United States has supplied 1,680 steel arms lockers and gun racks that secure SA/LW in remote outposts and other vulnerable sites.

In the Sahel, terrorists have attacked security force bases where CWD programs had built or upgraded armories. The security enhancements prevented the terrorists from looting the armories.

The United States has destroyed more than 360,000 excess SA/LW and 7,400 tons of excess ammunition, further reducing the risk of illicit diversions or accidental depot explosions.

The United States has invested in sustainable national capacity by training more than 2,690 personnel to manage stockpiles in line with international standards, supporting marking and tracing programs to improve accountability, and assisting national authorities to draft national strategies and action plans.

Humanitarian Demining Sets Stage for Peace and Development

Since 1993, the United States has assisted 26 African countries to locate and destroy landmines, UXO, and other explosive remnants of war (ERW). Humanitarian demining protects civilians and endangered wildlife, allows displaced persons to return home, restores land to productive use, and lays the groundwork for socio-economic development. In conflict-affected areas like the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), CWD programs help stabilize communities by facilitating the return of displaced persons and opening land for agriculture. In other countries, such as Angola, CWD programs clear landmines that persist from past conflicts and continue to kill and maim people and impede development.

As the largest international donor for demining in Angola, U.S. support has returned more than 464 million square meters (114,657 acres) to productive use, in the process destroying more than 98,000 landmines and items of UXO and abandoned unexploded ordnance (AXO). CWD programs also support the Government of Angola's environmental conservation goals by opening safe access for research scientists and tourists.

In Zimbabwe, CWD assistance has returned more than 9.1 million square meters (2,249 acres) to productive use and destroyed 42,861 landmines and other ERW. CWD programs clear dense minefields along the border with Mozambique, primarily benefitting poor Zimbabwean farmers by releasing arable land, protecting their livestock, and opening access to health clinics, water sources, schools, and cross-border trade.

In South Sudan, CWD programs clear explosive hazards in the Equatoria states, an important agricultural region for the country and home to a large number of internally displaced persons and returning refugees.

With U.S. support, seven African countries have declared themselves mine free.

Since 1993, the United States has invested more than $4 billion for conventional weapons destruction in more than 100 countries, making the United States the world's single largest financial supporter of conventional weapons destruction.

For more information, check out our annual report, To Walk the Earth in Safety, and follow us on Twitter @StateDeptPM

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