WHO ARE WE
UNMAS (United Nations Mine Action Service) was established by the UN General Assembly in 1997 to be the focal point for mine action in the United Nations.
The programme provides weapons and ammunition management (WAM) and explosive hazard expertise in such as landmines, explosive remnants of war (ERW), cluster munitions and improvised explosive devices (IED). UNMAS leads, coordinates and undertakes activities to mitigate these threats when mandated by the United Nations Security Council or, when requested by the Secretary-General or an affected country, often in response to a humanitarian emergency.
WHY ARE WE IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
Since independence in 1960, the DRC has witnessed political turmoil causing widespread displacement of its people and nationwide contamination of explosive remnants of war (ERW), mines and cluster munitions. In recent years a relapse into armed conflict has served to exacerbate the fragile security situation, and seen an increase in the number of internally displaced people (IDP’s). Inadequate weapons and ammunition security in the region also remains a pressing concern both at National level and within the broader international community. Notably, the Congolese National Police (PNC) does not presently have the capacity to safely manage and store their unmarked weapons, and without an alternative solution, they either store weapons in their private residences or in FARDC facilities. Furthermore, most of these facilities do not meet the minimum international standards. This not only impacts upon the ability of the PNC to fulfil their role as national police, but this lack of weapons regulation also contributes to the proliferation of weapons to illegal armed groups in the region.
SNAPSHOT OF EXPLOSIVE HAZARD MANAGEMENT HISTORY IN
Ø 2013: So as to align its operations with SCR 2098 (2013), UNMAS has reinforced its support to MONUSCO’s operations in eastern DRC whilst transferring all humanitarian mine action activities to UN Country Team (UNCT) and the GoDRC. That is to say capacity building of National Mine Action Authority CCLAM, risk education and humanitarian landmine/ERW clearance activities were solely conducted by UNCT and GoDRC. Final transfer of responsibility for the coordination of all humanitarian mine action activities to CCLAM will be achieved by the end of 2015.
Ø 2014/2015: During this period, UNMAS DRC reconfigured the programme and revamped the scope of operations to focus on better supporting the mission mandated objectives outlined in SCR 2147 (2014).
1) Protection of Civilians (PoC) - UNMAS mitigates the threat posed by ERW to civilians before, during and after MONUSCO Force operations against illegal armed groups. UNMAS is also on emergency standby to react to ERW that pose an immediate threat to civilians and Force personnel, and to conduct rapid assessment and clearance as required. To date, about 29,700 items of ERW, 33,700 rounds of Small Arms Ammunition (SAA) and 47 tons of obsolete ammunition collected from Troop Contributing Countries (TCC) have been destroyed.
2) Stabilization – UNMAS continues to engage with the PNC and the FARDC with a view to enhancing national capacity. The programme supports PNC development of a national WAM plan and trains selected FARDC soldiers on how to search and report arms caches left behind by armed groups in Masisi (North Kivu). So far, 720 weapons and 177,990 rounds of SAA recovered from armed groups have been destroyed facilitating the Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process.
3) Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework (PSCF) – In the furtherance of PSCF goals, UNMAS continues to encourage National institutions to increase weapons and ammunition safety. UNMAS stands ready to respond to any tasks received in support of PSCF.