636 incidents of Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites (UEMS) took place between 1979 and December 2021, resulting in 30,883 casualties (deaths and injuries), reveals the newest update of the Small Arms Survey UEMS database. The database tracks the frequency and destructive impact of UEMS incidents—defined as the accidental explosion of abandoned, damaged, improperly stored, or properly stored stockpiles of ammunition and explosives at munitions sites.
The increasingly sophisticated arsenals of guided light weapons held by non-state actors pose an international security threat. These include man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS) and anti-tank guided weapons (ATGWs)—systems operable by a single user or a small crew, where the weapons’ missiles are either manually targeted or self-guided after launch. Such systems have been used by armed groups to attack commercial airlines, military aircraft, and governmental targets, as well as to degrade military and peacekeeping operations.
This blog post was published as part of the Global Partnership on Small Arms project, which was managed by the Small Arms Survey and funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.
The Global Partnership on Small Arms was a platform where stakeholders engaged in reducing or preventing illicit arms trafficking were able to interact; exchange information, experience, and knowledge; and give feedback to further their shared goals.
Unplanned explosions at munitions sites (UEMS) remain a global and multi-faceted problem. UEMS are accidental explosions of abandoned, damaged, improperly or properly stored stockpiles of ammunition and explosives at munitions sites.
There are more than one billion firearms in the world, the vast majority of which are in civilian hands. The Small Arms Survey estimates that of the one billion firearms in global circulation as of 2017, 857 million (85 per cent) were in civilian hands, 133 million (13 per cent) were in military arsenals, and 23 million (2 per cent) were owned by law enforcement agencies.
This infographic offers a further breakdown of these numbers by, region, country, and sector.
Unplanned explosions at munitions sites (UEMS) are a global problem. The Small Arms Survey defines UEMS as the accidental explosion of stockpiles of ammunition and explosives at storage sites, whether the stockpiles are properly stored or are abandoned, damaged, or improperly stored.
'A series of massive blasts recently rocked Equatorial Guinea’s city of Bata. The explosions, at an army barracks, killed over 100 people and destroyed military buildings as well as people’s homes around the site. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema stated that the explosions were “caused by negligence of the unit in charge of storing explosives, dynamite and ammunition at the Nkoa Ntoma military camp”.
'The world is currently facing an unprecedented challenge in the form of COVID-19. The pandemic is affecting people’s lives across the globe, and predictions speak to the crisis continuing for a while yet.