Congo, Republic of

Last Updated: 16 December 2012

Mine Action

Contamination and Impact


The Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) appears not to be contaminated with mines. Congo previously reported a possible mine threat left over from the conflict in the Angolan enclave of Cabinda. According to its Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report covering April 2003 to April 2004, “the border zone with Angola in the southwest of the country is mine suspected.”[1] Its latest Article 7 report, covering calendar year 2008, indicated “no change” in the situation.[2] The area concerned is approximately 2,250km2 in size.[3]

In February 2008, Mines Advisory Group (MAG) carried out a survey in Kimongo district along the border with Cabinda, an area suspected to be contaminated. The findings of the survey “did not confirm a current mine threat on the Republic of Congo side of the border,” but MAG hoped to carry out additional spot verification to validate the results. This did not subsequently occur.[4]

In May 2009, Congo informed the Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies that surveys had not identified any new mine victims since the 1970s, although the indigenous populations had claimed, “without much evidence,” that mines were present.[5] In 2006, it had been claimed that civilians in the suspected areas were reluctant to return to their communities to carry out forestry and farming because “they have not received any guarantees for their security from the authorities.”[6] Given the uncertainty, in June 2011 Congo declared that it would seek an extension to its Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline to enable it to conduct the necessary surveys of the suspected region.[7]

In October 2011, a rapid survey by Demeter, a French demining NGO, identified six mine-contaminated villages in the southwest of the country, based on a meeting with local community leaders. In January 2012, at the request of the Congolese Ministry of Defence, Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) conducted an assessment mission together with a representative of the Mine Ban Treaty Implementation Support Unit to determine whether a mine threat remained. On the basis of the assessment, NPA decided to conduct non-technical survey (NTS) over a small number of specific locations.[8] NPA’s Democratic Republic of Congo program manager conducted survey operations in neighboring Congo-Brazzaville in October 2012, concluding that there were no mined areas requiring release.[9]

Cluster munition remnants

Cluster munition remnants have been a threat in the past,[10] although it is believed that the problem has now been addressed.[11] In February 2011, MAG re-established its program in Congo to clear the Maya-Maya site of unexploded ordnance (UXO), including unexploded submunitions.[12] Clearance of the site was completed in early 2012 by Congolese deminers working under technical assistance from MAG.[13]

Other explosive remnants of war

Congo is contaminated with explosive remnants of war (ERW), both abandoned explosive ordnance and UXO. At the Maya-Maya site, items of UXO, including unexploded submunitions, were scattered on open ground being cultivated.[14] Unsafe explosive ordnance storage conditions also increase the likelihood of fires or explosions at ammunition storage areas (ASAs); these have already occurred several times.[15] Indeed, MAG has noted that unsafe storage conditions “were partly responsible for the explosion at the Maya-Maya ammunition depot that scattered explosive material on 26 hectares of land adjacent to Brazzaville International Airport, contaminating land that will need clearance.”[16]

On 4–5 March 2012, a series of blasts at an ASA in Brazzaville killed more than 200 people and injured a further 1,500, trapping many underneath collapsed buildings. The blast was believed to have been caused by a fire that resulted from an electrical fault.[17] Munitions were projected across a range of several square kilometers in a densely populated civilian area.[18]

Mine Action Program


Key institutions and operators


Situation on 1 January 2012

National Mine Action Authority


Mine action center


International demining operators


National demining operators

Congolese armed forces

There is no national mine action authority or mine action center, although a colonel within the Ministry of National Defense has served as the national mine action focal point.

MAG has been the only international clearance operator in Congo. It has been conducting capacity building for Congolese Armed Forces personnel.[19] As of early 2012, it was planning to leave Congo but remained following the explosion of the ASA in Brazzaville. In addition, Handicap International sent an emergency team to Congo to conduct risk education and other risk reduction activities.[20]

Land Release

MAG continued its battle area clearance operations in 2011, working with Ministry of Defence clearance personnel.[21]

Survey in 2011

No survey activities were conducted in 2011.

Mine clearance in 2011

No mine clearance activities were conducted in 2011.

Compliance with Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty

Under Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty (and in accordance with the 14-month extension request granted in 2011), Congo is required to destroy all antipersonnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but not later than 1 January 2013.

At the Second Review Conference in Cartagena, Congo had declared that “before the expiry of the treaty deadline, with the assistance of the GICHD, Congo will fulfill all the obligations of the Mine Ban Treaty, in particular the obligation under Article 5.”[22] Congo declared at the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in June 2011 that it would seek a one-year extension to its Article 5 deadline to enable it to conduct the necessary surveys of the suspected region.[23] It did not, however, submit an extension request prior to the expiry of its deadline and was therefore in violation of the treaty from 1 November 2011 until the decision of the Eleventh Meeting of States Parties on 2 December 2011 to grant Congo a 14-month extension.

Congo’s extension was finally submitted on 18 November 2012. The Eleventh Meeting of States Parties agreed “with regret” to grant the request for an extension until 1 January 2013. In granting the request, States Parties noted that Congo had been “non-compliant with respect to its Article 5.1 obligations since 1 November 2011. The States Parties expressed that the unprecedented failure of … Congo to complete implementation of Article 5 by 1 November 2011 or to have requested and received an extension on its deadline prior to that date represents a matter of serious concern.”[24] It was also noted at the meeting that since Congo submitted its initial transparency report in 2002, it had provided “no appreciable additional information to confirm or deny the presence of mines in the reported suspected area.”[25]

Based on the results of NPA’s NTS project, Congo was expected to be in a position to declare completion of its Article 5 obligations at the Twelfth Meeting of States Parties in December 2012.

Clearance of cluster-munition contaminated area in 2011

During clearance of 165,500m2 across the Maya-Maya site in 2011, a total of 63 unexploded submunitions were destroyed (34 PTAB 2.5M and 29 AO1 ScH submunitions).[26] A further 117,300m2 had been cleared through 10 February 2012, which represented almost total clearance of the site. A further 38 submunitions were found during this clearance (33 PTAB 2.5M and 5 AO1 ScH submunitions).[27]

Compliance with Article 4 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions

Congo is a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but had not yet ratified as of mid-July 2012. It is believed that all cluster munition remnants have been destroyed, although it is possible that a residual risk may remain.


[1] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form C, 4 May 2004.

[2] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2008), Form C.

[3] GICHD, “République du Congo: Synthèse d’informations de l’action contre les mines et les restes explosifs de guerre - dont sous-munitions” (“Republic of the Congo: Overview of information on mine action and ERW - including submunitions”), Second African Francophone Seminar on Mine Action and ERW, Dakar, Senegal, 2–4 November 2009.

[4] Email from Anna Kilkenny, Programme Manager, MAG, 7 April 2008.

[5] Statement of Congo, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 27 May 2009.

[6] Ibid., 10 May 2006.

[7] Ibid., 21 June 2011.

[8] Email from Aksel Steen-Nilsen, Thailand Programme Manager, NPA, 2 February 2012.

[9] Email from Quartim Carlos Matongueiro, Programme Manager, NPA DR Congo, 19 November 2012.

[10] Email from Frédéric Martin, MAG, 1 February 2010; and MAG, “Where we work: MAG ROC in depth,” November 2009,

[11] Discussions with Ministry of Defence personnel and MAG staff during NPA assessment mission in January 2012.

[12] Email from Rebecca Letven, Desk Officer for Republic of Congo, MAG, 21 February 2011.

[13] NPA, “Final Non-Technical Survey Report, Republic of Congo,” November 2012.

[14] MAG, “Where we work: MAG ROC in depth,” November 2009,

[15] MAG, “Where we work: Republic of Congo,” April 2010,

[16] Ibid.

[17] See, for example, David Baker, “More than 200 people killed following series of explosions at weapons depot in Congolese capital,” Daily Mail, 5 March 2012; and MAG, “Brazzaville Response, Situation Report 1, 9 March 2012,” received by email from Claire Hargreaves, Media and Communications Officer, MAG, 12 March 2012.

[18] Handicap International, “Handicap International deploys an emergency response mission to Brazzaville (Republic of Congo) to protect the civilian population,” Press release, 9 March 2012.

[19] MAG, “R.O. CONGO: 750,000 dangerous items demolished in two years,” 11 December 2009,

[20] Handicap International, “Handicap International deploys an emergency response mission to Brazzaville (Republic of Congo) to protect the civilian population,” Press release, 9 March 2012.

[21] Email from Lionel Cattaneo, Programme Manager, MAG, 10 February 2012.

[22] Statement of Congo, Second Review Conference, Cartagena, 3 December 2009.

[23] Statement of Congo, Standing Committee on Mine Action, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 21 June 2011. The actual statement as delivered concerned the intention to seek a four-month extension, but the formal statement in writing declared that Congo would seek a 12-month extension. The written statement also suggested that this would extend Congo’s deadline to 1 November 2013, but this was believed to be a typographical error as the correct date, if the extension is granted by the States Parties at the Eleventh Meeting of States Parties, will be 1 November 2012.

[24] “Decision of the Eleventh Meeting of States Parties on Congo’s Article 5 deadline extension request,” 2 December 2011.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Email from Lionel Cattaneo, MAG, 10 February 2012.

[27] Ibid.