Over 105,400 arms, ammunition, and explosives destroyed under the Organised Crime: West African Response to Trafficking (OCWAR-T) Project

October 27, 2022

Margibi, 27th October 2022 – The Organised Crime: West African Response to Trafficking (OCWAR-T) Project today commenced the destruction of more than 105,400 arms, ammunition and explosives collected from counties across Liberia, including Bong, Montserrado, Lofa and Sinoe.

“You can’t imagine the number of guns around the country. The destruction of these arms and ammunition today is significant because it shows our desire as a country to transition from crisis to sustained peace,” said Teklo Maxwell Grigsby, II (Atty.), Chairman of the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LiNCSA).

The public three-day activity was conducted at the Edward Binyah Kesselly (EBK) Military Barracks, Schiefflin Township, Margibi County, in the presence of the Deputy Minister of Operations for the Ministry of National Defense, the National Security Adviser, the Chairman and members of the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LiNCSA), State Security Operatives, representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), the Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA), Mine Advisory Group (MAG), Foreign Missions, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Traditional Leaders and the public.

“I would like to commend the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms for its leadership in organising this public weapons destruction event which is a demonstration of the level of transparency in the country’s arms stockpile management program,” said Louis Kuukpen, Deputy Resident Representative (Programmes), UNDP Liberia. “In addition to the ongoing activities under the OCWAR-T Project, UNDP remains committed to supporting the National Small Arms Commission and state security agencies through various capacity-building initiatives in the fight against the trafficking, circulation and proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons in Liberia,” he added.

Between 1989 to 2003, Liberia grappled with a civil war which left the country politically and economically unstable, affecting millions of lives in and around the country. According to the Center for Global Development, more than 250,000 Liberians lost their lives, about half of the population was displaced, and grave crimes and several human rights violations were carried out due to the 14-year civil war. With lost livelihoods, infrastructure, sense of safety and security all affected, the civil war has had long-lasting implications that are still being felt almost two decades later.

However, significant progress has been made since 2003. According to the United Nations Africa Renewal, over 21,000 weapons were collected, and more than 100,000 combatants were disarmed by the end of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Liberia in 2018. This destruction event today marks one of several landmarks in recent years to address the illicit flow of arms and ammunition in the country and set it towards a path to recovery and sustained peace.

“It is worthy of note that this destruction marks the first time that the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms and any National Commission (NatCom) in the ECOWAS region has been able to mop up arms and ammunition exhibits for destruction from the justice system and police service. This is a testament to the confidence in the mandate of the NatCom within the security architecture of Liberia as a valued partner,” said Fredrick Ampiah, Regional Coordinator, Small Arms and Light Weapons, UNDP Sub-Regional Hub for West and Central Africa.

Through the OCWAR-T Project, support is provided to ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania to reduce transnational organised crime by strengthening national and regional structures and capacities, fostering evidence-led policy and decision-making, supporting criminal investigations and prosecution, improving small arms control, and reducing human trafficking.

For More Information and Media Enquiries, Contact:

Ugochukwu Kingsley Ahuchaogu, Regional Communications Analyst, UNDP Sub-Regional Hub for West and Central Africa | ugochukwu.kingsley@undp.org

About the OCWAR-T Project

OCWAR-T is an ECOWAS project commissioned by the German Government and co-funded by the EU. GIZ jointly implements OCWAR-T with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Mines Advisory Group (MAG), International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and Global Initiative Against Organised Crime (GITOC).

About LiNCSA

The Liberia National Commission on Small Arms formulates and implements policies and measures aimed at addressing the problem of proliferation and illicit manufacturing, use, distribution, possession and trafficking of small arms and light weapons; and coordinates and monitors all private and public sector efforts to prevent, combat and eradicate the proliferation and illicit trade in small arms and light weapons within and across the borders of Liberia. The commission collaborates with the Ministry of Justice to ensure that the Liberia National Police give licenses to would-be users of small arms characterised by transparency and accountability.

About UNDP

UNDP is the leading United Nations organisation fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations build integrated, lasting solutions for people and the planet.

Learn more at www.undp.org/africa