Safe storage saves lives

Monday, 15 September 2014

Port-au-Prince | DPKO | UNMAS
In late 2013, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) requested assistance from the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) to dispose of 11 tonnes of degraded ammunition. Then, in 2014, as part of its police development plan,MINUSTAH asked UNMAS to support a pilot project on weapons and ammunition management in support of the Haitian National Police (HNP).

The project was designed to increase technical efficiency and to implement international ammunition and weapons management standards. Disposing of obsolete ammunition and unregistered weapons and providing secure, safe and well organized storage facilities lessens the likelihood of accidental explosions and the illicit circulation of arms.

The four-month project included supplying the equipment and training for the destruction of unwanted weapons and unsafe ammunition; assessing the storage facilities around the country; training HNP officers on small arms control standards; and rehabilitating or constructing three armouries that meet international standards. The three armouries at the HNP Academy, the HNP SWAT installation and at the National Palace Presidential Security Unit offices were completed and handed-over in August.

The Director of the Police Academy, Commissaire Sonny Noelsaint, who received the new armoury at the Academy during the official opening and handover ceremony, stated that it was an important addition to the Academy. “I can guarantee that we will put this armoury to good use,” he stated.

MINUSTAH with the assistance of UNMAS is looking at providing additional improvements to storage facilities, additional training in firearms safety, armoury management, accountability measures, weapons and ammunition destruction and explosive ordnance disposal.

Serge Therriault, the acting United Nations Police Commissioner in Haiti, welcomed the work that UNMAS has done to support the HNP.  He considered these initial projects to set the stage for future work, which the HNP is developing with MINUSTAH. Upcoming initiatives include curbing the illicit traffic of illegal weapons in the country, improving the control of firearms inside of the HNP and in civil society, as well as rebuilding storage facilities in the 10 Departments of the country.

“There is still a ways to go,” he concluded.