Goal achieved! 1,800 Tons of Ammunition Disposed

Mar 29, 2017

The exceptional results in terms of improved community safety through Project EXPLODE funded by the European Union were in focus during the Project Closing Ceremony held on March 29, in Sarajevo.

Project EXPLODE (Explosive Ordnance and Remnants of War Destruction) was started in June 2013, aimed at disposal of lethal explosive ordnance and remnants of war in order to improve the safety of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was funded by the European Union in the amount of EUR 4,604,830, and was implemented by the Ministry of Defense and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Speaking about the EU support to the demilitarization process in BiH, Head of Cooperation Melvin Asin reminded that up to today, EUR 12 million has been allocated to prevent the illicit use of and access to firearms, small arms and light weapons, and to dispose of unsafe ammunition. He emphasized that in addition to this amount, since 2004, EUR 46 million has been spent on demining and clearance of unexploded devices, under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance.

"We are here because the EU has been supporting a safe and secure Bosnia and Herzegovina. Project EXPLODE, which has been implemented in cooperation with local and international partners, has helped establish the conditions for a sustainable management of the ammunition life cycle. Yet for this to become efficient, and have an overall impact on the performance of Armed Forces, the stockpile should be further downsized. The EU will continue supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina's efforts to reach a level of manageable stockpile by end of 2018. To this end we have foreseen an allocation of EUR 2.8 million to be spent on disposal in 2017 and 2018”, said Asin.

The main goal of the project was to dispose of the large surplus amounts of the outdated and chemically unstable ammunition found at storage sites across BiH. The project has improved the safety of not only those who have been handling these devices, but also of those who live in the direct vicinity of the storage sites, which are found mainly in rural areas.

The UNDP Resident Representative in BiH, Ms. Sezin Sinanoglu stated: "The Project has had three basic goals. The first one was to reduce the surplus quantities of ammunition which is unstable and unsafe. In terms of accomplishing this goal, the project has indeed made a big success. 1,800 tons of surplus ammunition has been disposed, including the small arms and light weapons, artillery and ammunition filled with white phosphorus. The second goal of Project EXPLODE was to build the capacities of the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defense of BiH in order to enhance their capabilities to manage the ammunition and to dispose of the remaining ammunition stockpiles. The project has successfully reconstructed 72 facilities; their safety and security have been improved, and their equipment has also been upgraded. UNDP remains further committed to the effort needed in order to complete whatever is necessary jointly with its partners.“

Project EXPLODE has developed specialized training programs for the management of stockpile ammunition for the senior officers of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"I believe that this project has made a multiple contribution; in addition to a degree of stability and security, it has also contributed to the provision of training for a significant number of the Armed Forces members; we have passed and adopted the appropriate documents to use as the basis to facilitate the management of the lifecycle in the future of ammunition and explosive devices. Once again, I wish to truly express my gratitude to Ms. Sinanoglu, all representatives of the UNDP, OSCE, NATO, EUFOR, Swiss Embassy, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and the United States of America“, concluded Ms. Marina Pendes, Minister of Defense of BiH.

What the speakers have also pointed out is that the activities linked to the further development and a new project phase are being planned and they are hoping to receive the financial support as soon as possible so that the remaining ammunition can be disposed and that BiH could be safe for its citizens.