The New Times (Kigali)

3 March 2012

Rwanda: Regional Cooperation Key to Fight Against Illicit Arms

Rwanda has made tremendous progress in the fight against the proliferation of small arms.

So far, over 32,000 illegal arms have been destroyed since 2008. Last year, 40 tonnes of ammunition was destroyed at the Gabiro military barracks; all small arms in the hands of the police, the armed forces and private security companies have been given serial numbers by the newly acquired firearms marking machine.

In 2007, Rwanda established the Central Firearms Registry to control, manage and monitor the use of firearms.

These steps are essential to the security of Rwandans. Keeping illicit small arms from the hands of criminals, who would use these guns to rob, murder and terrorise residents is crucial. And thankfully these steps have worked; gun deaths are the lowest in East Africa.

One of Rwanda's challenges in eliminating the fire arms is the fact that small arms trade and movement is cross border. While 300,000 illegal arms have been surrendered and destroyed, there are estimated to be 500,000 illicit arms in just the East African region. If we throw in Somali and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the number increases.

That is why it is important that East African countries cooperate to control the flow arms within the region. Insecurity in one country can have a bearing on the region.

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