Illicit small arms and light weapons a threat


Illicit small arms and light weapons constitute a serious threat and safety in Africa, Eina Mohammed head of defense and security at African Union said at a workshop today.


Small arms have long been considered as the primary tool and enabler of violence throughout the history of conflict in Africa, she said.


“In conflict situations, small arms cause a range of human rights and humanitarian law violations including mass killings, forced displacement, gender based violence and attacks against peace keepers and humanitarian workers.”


“However, the threat of small arms is not only limited to conflict situations. The widespread availability of arms has direct and adverse effects on human security and democratic governance. In urban settings, firearms fuel crime andlence including robberies domestic violence and gang activities. In rural settings poaching, inter-communal violence, competition violence over natural resources and cattle rustling are highly intensified by the availability of small arms,” she said.


Mohammed also said that, overall the continued circulation of small arms diverts limited government resources away from developmental programs and adversely impact the potential for investments.


“Therefore, controlling the illicit proliferation, circulation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons is at the heart of the Africa Union's efforts to prevent conflicts, mitigate their adverse impact and consolidate peace. Over the past decade important policy and legal instruments have been adopted at the continental level in response to this problem with significant progress being made in their implementation by member states.”


“More recently the AU assembly of heads of states adopted the AU master roadmap of practical steps to silence the Gun in Africa by the year 2020. The road map underlines that controlling the illicit proliferation of small arms requires particular focus and renewed efforts,” she said.


The workshop is attended by several high ranked law enforcement officers of SADC and is expected to be concluded on Friday.