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When insurgent groups in Mali began to rebel for independence in late 2011, the fighting led to the diversion of small arms and light weapons (SALW) from government storage areas. The end of Gaddafi’s rule in Libya subsequently led to a large flow of SALW as well as ammunition in the Sahel region with fighters from Libya using northern Mali as their base, contributing to increased instability in the country.1 

Ammunition management activities in the country have been ongoing since 2013 and they range from assessments, support to national authorities in Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM), training courses, construction of armouries and explosive stores, and destruction of ammunition. Organisations on the ground include the African Union, UNMAS, UNODC, BICC, MAG, and HALO Trust. The African Union Roadmap is currently under implementation to reduce ammunition stocks in the region.2


1Dupouy, Marlène. “Strengthening Security in Mali with Weapons and Ammunition Management.” UNMAS. UNMAS, November 2017. See also “Stemming the Tide: African Leadership in Small Arms and Light Weapons Control.” One Earth Future, November 3, 2018.

2African Union Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by Year 2020. African Union, February 4, 2020.

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Further information

Accidental explosions

Since the beginning of data collection in 1979 by the Small Arms Survey, only four accidental explosions were reported in Mali.

Table. 1 Accidental explosions in Mali (1979-2021) 

Year Location Owner/Manager Deaths Injuries
2018 Bamako Non-State (private) 0 1
2015 Bamako Non-State (private) 1 2
2015 Gao Town Non-State (private) 1 1
1997 Kati State (military) 6 N/A

Source: Small Arms Survey. n.d. Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites (UEMS). Database.


Cases of diversion

Several cases of diversion have been reported since 2006 in Mali. 

Table 2: Cases of diversion of arms, ammunition, and explosives in Mali since 2006

Year Location Description
2014 Kidal Rebels captured 50 new 4×4 vehicles— which the EU had provided to the Malian army as part of its support for military training—as well as ‘several tonnes of arms and ammunition.’
2012 Aguelhok, Gao and Timbuktu The takeover of army bases led to the capture of army stockpiles.
2006-2007 Amachach, Ménaka, Timbuktu and Gao Senior military officers allowed the transfer of several truckloads of arms and the looting of army stockpiles.

Source: Small Arms Survey. “Expanding Arsenals: Insurgent Arms in Northern Mali.” In Small Arms Survey 2015: Weapons and the World

, 156–69. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. See also Gehin, Léo. “‘War Weapons like Peanuts’: Mali Needs to Make SALW Proliferation a Priority Again.” Groupe de recherche et d'information sur la paix et la sécurité, March 9, 2021. See lastly and Mangan, Fiona, and Matthias Nowak.

The West Africa-Sahel Connection: Mapping Cross-Border Arms Trafficking. Geneva: Small Arms Survey, 2019.

To decrease the above-mentioned risks of accidental explosions and diversion, Mali has continuously disposed of its ammunition since 2013.

Table 3. Disposal of tonnes of ammunition in Mali (2013-2021)

Year Tonnes of Ammunition
2013 218
2015 145
2017 17
2019 23
2021 129

Source: “Mali.” UNMAS. Accessed April 27, 2022. See also Unmas. “In Mali a Total of 290 Tons of Obsolete, Unsafe and Unserviceable Ammunition Were Safely Destroyed since 2014.” Twitter. UNMAS, March 1, 2016. See also UNMAS. “Over 62 Tons of Obsolete Ammunition and Expired Explosives Destroyed in #Mali. @UN_MINUSMA.” Twitter. UNMAS, March 17, 2015. See also “UNMAS News July 2015.” ReliefWeb, July 29, 2015. See also Bauer, Anne. “Quatre Ans Après Serval, Le Mali n’a Pas Retrouvé La Sécurité.” Les Echos. Les Echos, January 12, 2017. See also AMAP Dataset.


No reported needs have been identified for Mali.

Source: PoA Report 2020, Mali. Please note that PoA reports focus on SALW and not specifically on ammunition. 


Published Date: Thursday 30 of June 2022