UNREC updates

“I was privileged to be part of the UN quick response, experiencing once more what it truly means to advance disarmament that saves lives.” - Anselme Yabouri, Director of the UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa.

On 7 March, Equatorial Guinea was shaken by a series of explosions at a military camp in Bata, its largest city. 107 people died and more than 600 people were injured.

Shortly afterward, the Government of Equatorial Guinea requested the assistance of the UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC),

In response, UNREC joined technical experts from the Geneva-based Ammunition Management Advisory Team (AMAT) to assist the Government in assessing the accident’s cause and reducing the risk of further explosions and potential environmental impacts.

The mission, which took place under the Quick Response Mechanism of the UN SaferGuard Programme managed by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, was able to deploy after just four days, signaling the dedication of UN staff to swiftly bringing together relevant expertise and capabilities after a disaster.

In Bata, the team spoke to witnesses, personnel and impacted surrounding communities. It assessed the blast site for damage, measured radiation levels and checked for toxic materials, like heavy metals, with the support of the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team.

The UNREC-AMAT mission also provided technical advice on good practices in ammunition management that could help prevent further incidents.

With the Resident Coordinator, the team supported the Government in coordinating international assistance by relevant stakeholders.

In its final report, the team clarified the incident’s causes, explained its chain of events and offered actionable recommendations for national authorities.

In reaction to the findings, the Government expressed heartfelt appreciation for the quick UN response and requested additional assistance in implementing the recommendations, which were aimed at preventing accidents in the future.

The joint UNREC-AMAT mission operated under the overall guidance of the UN Resident Coordinator while relying on the UN Development Programme for critical logistical support.

The incident in Bata and its catastrophic humanitarian consequences are an urgent reminder of the importance of safe and secure management of ammunition stockpiles around the world.

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