Since gaining independence from Belgium in 1962, Burundi has witnessed violence, armed conflicts, two genocides and several coups d’état.1 From 1993 to 2003, the country was embroiled in a civil war, which resulted in the deaths of 300,000 people and the displacement of about a fifth of the country’s population. One of the major consequences of this conflict was a massive proliferation of firearms among civilians.2
The Mines Advisory Group (MAG) has supported Burundi since 2007 to reduce the threats posed by small arms and light weapons and unsecured stockpiles.3 The country adopted the national law governing small arms and light weapons in 2009. The UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and Bordering States (RECSA) provide financial and technical assistance to ensure the safe and secure management of weapons and ammunition.4 RECSA is currently implementing a weapon and ammunition management training project.5
1 "US Relations with Burundi: Bilateral Relations Fact Sheet," US Department of State, June 19, 2020, https://www.state.gov/u-s-relations-with-burundi.
2 Stéphanie Pezard and Nicolas Florquin, Small Arms in Burundi: Disarming the Civilian Population in Peacetime (Geneva: Small Arms Survey, 2007), https://www.smallarmssurvey.org/sites/default/files/resources/SAS-SR07-Burundi-EN.pdf.
3 "MAG CWMD Global Update," MAG, July 31, 2009, https://reliefweb.int/report/burundi/mag-cwmd-global-update-july-2009.
4 Burundi, National Report on the Implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PoA) and the International Tracing Instrument (ITI) (New York: Permanent Mission of Burundi to the UN, 2022), https://unoda-poa.s3.amazonaws.com/reports/BDI-French-1193-SUBMITTED.pdf.
5 “Ammunition Management Activity Platform (A-MAP),” GICHD, 2022, https://a-map.gichd.org.
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Since the Small Arms Survey began collecting data in 1979, no accidental explosions have been reported in Burundi.
Source: “Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites (UEMS) Database,” Small Arms Survey, updated December 15, 2021, https://smallarmssurvey.org/database/unplanned-explosions-munitions-sites-uems.
Cases of diversion
Numerous cases of diversion have been reported in Burundi.
Table 1. Cases of diversion of arms, ammunition and explosives in Burundi
South African army base in Burundi
A number of guns, ammunition and bombs – including 40 mortar bombs, 54 R-4 rifles, 4 R-5 rifles, 1 sniper rifle, 2 12-gauge shotguns, 8 machineguns, 8 pistols and 27 grenade launchers – were stolen.
Sources: Karyn Maughan, "Burundi Bungle Leaves SANDF Chiefs Red-faced," IOL News, October 31, 2006, https://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/burundi-bungle-leaves-sandf-chiefs-red-faced-300893.
By 2012, 97 tonnes of ammunition had been destroyed in collaboration with MAG.
Source: GICHD, Mines Advisory Group’s Physical Security and Stockpile Management Programme Burundi Case Study (Geneva: GICHD, 2012), https://www.gichd.org/fileadmin/GICHD/topics/development/ma_development-2/AVR/AVR-Burundi-MAG-case-study-Sep2012.pdf.
To further enhance safe and secure ammunition management, the following need has been identified for Burundi:
- Capacity development for the destruction of surplus stockpiles, particularly technical and financial assistance.
Source: Burundi, National PoA Report.