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Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining

Conventional Ammunition Accidental Explosions and Diversion from State Stockpiles

Ageing, unstable and excess conventional ammunition stockpiles pose the dual risk of accidental explosion and diversion to illicit markets. Undermining public safety and security, the risks are significant yet avoidable.

More than 120 countries have experienced an ammunition storage explosion in the past 30 years with severe humanitarian and socio-economic consequences. Thousands of people have been killed, injured and displaced, and the livelihoods of entire communities have been disrupted. The humanitarian impact is further amplified when such explosions occur in urban areas, as illustrated by a detonating ammunition depot in Congo-Brazzaville (2011) which killed 500, injured 2,500 and made 121,000 homeless.

Lack of ammunition security enables diversion to illicit markets and onward proliferation, thus fuelling armed conflict, terrorism and crime. Diverted ammunition enhance military capabilities of criminal organisations and terrorist groups. Their explosive nature make conventional ammunition particularly attractive for the manufacture of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).