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Sierra Leone has armed conflicts and instability surrounding its territory, with armed groups diverting arms and ammunition from neighbouring national stockpiles. Following the armed conflict that took place in the country from 1991 to 2002, Sierra Leone became a trial ground for UN ammunition control and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) strategies. The country now has a variety of arms control programmes in place to repond to the illicit trafficking of ammunition.1

The African Union; the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and Bordering States (RECSA); the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR); the Multinational Small Arms and Ammunition Group (MSAG); the Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies (BICC); the Sub-Regional Arms Control Mechanism (SARCOM); and the Small Arms Survey have worked to support the through-life management of ammunition, in collaboration with the national government. Efforts have included conducting weapons and ammunition management baseline assessments, providing national and regional training on physical security and stockpile management, and removing ammunition stockpiles from populated areas.2

1 UNIDIR, Weapons & Ammunition Management Country Insight: Sierra Leone (Geneva: UNIDIR, 2020),

“Ammunition Management Activity Platform (A-MAP),” GICHD, 2022,


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Further information

Accidental explosions

Since the Small Arms Survey began collecting data in 1979, no accidental explosions have been reported in Sierra Leone.

Source: “Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites (UEMS) Database,” Small Arms Survey, updated December 15, 2021,

Cases of diversion

Two cases of diversion have been reported since 2000 in Sierra Leone.

Table 1. Cases of diversion of arms, ammunition and explosives in Sierra Leone since 2000

Year Location Description



A soldier was arrested with 2,500 rounds of ammunition.



The following items were stolen: 3 armoured vehicles (each fitted with a 14.5 mm and a 12.7 mm machine gun); 58 one 75 mm self-propelled gun; 1 anti-tank gun; 1 anti-tank weapon; 485 AK-47 rifles; 10 82 mm mortars; 24 light machine guns; 20 rocket-propelled grenades; and 30 pistols. At least two tons of ammunition was also taken.

Source: Abdul Rashid Thomas, “Man Arrested in Sierra Leone with Thousands of Rounds of Ammunition,” Sierra Leone Telegraph, September 16, 2020,; “Neglected Arms Embargo on Sierra Leone Rebels,” Human Rights Watch, May 15, 2000,; Eric G. Berman, Re-Armament in Sierra Leone: One Year After the Lomé Peace Agreement (Geneva: Small Arms Survey, 2000),


Insufficient information on ammunition disposal in Sierra Leone.


To further enhance safe and secure ammunition management, the following needs have been identified for Sierra Leone:

  • Development or refinement of standards and procedures on stockpile management;
  • Development of national database on lost, stolen or recovered arms and ammunition, as well as those to be destroyed;
  • Acquisition of small arms ammunition burning tank;
  • Increased level of awareness on ammunition safety and security risks at the highest level;
  • Sensitisation and involvement of border communities in the management of arms and ammunition and control activities; and
  • Training on the use of ECOWAS harmonised standard operating procedures (SOPs) and tools for the collection of captured, seized, found or surrendered weapons and ammunition.

Source: Sierra Leone, 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 Sierra Leone to the UN, 2022),; "Needs Analysis Dataset," AMAT (Ammunition Management Advisory Team), 2022.

Published Date: Tuesday 28 of November 2023