ABOUT 600,000 illicit arms are in circulation in the country, a recent survey conducted jointly by the Kenya National Focal Point on Small Arms KNFP and the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey SAS reveals.
Majority of this are concentrated in the hands of pastoralists from north and north eastern regions as well as in major urban centres such as Nairobi and Mombasa where they are used in committing crimes.
A statement from the Kenya Action Network on Small Arms said these weapons, which mainly comprise of assault rifles, hand guns and ammunition, are manufactured by nearly 1,000 firms spread in about 100 countries across the world. "Small Arms Survey estimates that the annual authorised trade is in excess of $6 billion and the figure is much higher when illegal trade is included,"stated the statement yesterday.
It further said the actual assessment is difficult due to the reluctance by many states to report publicly on their production,exports and imports of small arms. The Executive director Ochieng Adala said Africa which ironically rarely produces these weapons or ammunitions has over the years been reduced into a theatre of cyclic internecine,Small Arms and Light Weapons-perpetrated conflicts. "These range from civil wars and other intra-state conflagrations,cattle rustling,homicides and robberies,break and carjacking crimes in urban and peri-urban areas as well as cross-border incursions among a host of other serious violent crimes,"Adala said.
He said a critical hindrance in any effort to analyze illegal activities concerning SALW is that many important exporters of small arms are not necessarily major producers of the weapons. This, he said leads to a situation where a substantial number of Small Arms enter the illicit market through corruption,seizure and loss. The country director Amnesty International Kenya Justus Nyang'aya said Kenya has in the recent past witnessed a dramatic surge insecurity in particular as well as that of the sub region. He said today more than ever before,Kenyans live in perpetual fear of terrorist attacks and there is a spike in urban crime including organized crime.