Steps being taken to deal with thousands of tons of unused ammunition in BiH

Support from the EU and other partners for the destruction of unused ammunition is crucial for public safety, it was emphasized during the official ceremony of handover of renewed arms and ammunition storages. The ceremony was held on 12 December at BiH Ministry of Defence’s ammunition storage site in „Krupa“ near Pazaric. Approximately 18,000 tons of chemically unstable anti-personnel landmines, unexploded ordnance and explosive remnants of war surpluses pose a safety hazard for the local populations in areas where they are stored, as there is a high risk of accidental explosions.

While the ammunition has on average been stored for over 18 years, fortunately BiH is the only country in the region that so far has not suffered from accidental explosions. However, some of the storage sites have very low safety standards. Many of the BiH sites are also close to the country’s borders with Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, meaning that accidental explosions could cause damage and injuries not only in BiH itself.

The Armed Forces of BiH represented by Brigadier-General Dragan Vukovic, UNDP Programme Manager Slobodan Tadic and Head of Operations Section for Social Development, Civil Society and Cross Border Cooperation at the European Union Delegation to BiH Natalia Dianiskova presented the results of the Project “Support to Arms Control in the Western Balkans”. It was financed by the European Union and implemented by UNDP for the BiH Ministry of Defence as beneficiary, under the South Eastern and Eastern Europe financing instrument for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC).

Brigadier-General Vukovic expressed gratitude to UNDP and EU Delegation to BiH, saying that realization of the project is very important for BiH since it strengthens capacities of BiH Armed Forces, but also contributes to further integration of BiH in NATO structures. He pointed out that renewed storages bring a higher level of security and general improvement of the capacities of the BiH Armed Forces.

Natalia Dianiskova stated that SEESAC is currently implementing a series of arms control activities in the Western Balkans. As a part of this regional project, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNDP/SEESAC has assisted the Ministry of Defence with the amount of 190 000 euro to upgrade four SALW and ammunition storages: Krupa in Hadzici, Kula I and II in Mrkonjic Grad, Rabici in Derventa and TBT in Visoko. Main objective was to improve safety and security at SALW and ammunition storage sites in BiH.

Apart from this project, the EU has already implemented in BiH under the Instrument for Stability two phases of the project for ammunition destruction as from 2008 until 2011 in the total amount of 4,8 million euro, destroying 8,300 tons of  ammunition.