20 June 2012

Kenya Awash With Illegal Guns

The government has sounded alarm bells over the record number of firearms in illegal hands in the country. The ministry of internal security says ... ( Resource: Alarming Number of Illegal Firearms in Kenya )

Nairobi — A survey funded by the Danish government has shown that there are more than 500,000 firearms in the wrong hands in Kenya.

The study conducted by the Small Arms Survey and the Kenya National Focal Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons indicated that most of the guns are held in pastoral communities and urban areas.

"We have received the report and we are taking all the necessary measures to recover these arms because of the danger they pose to the country's security," Internal Security Permanent Secretary Mutea Iringo said when he received the report at his Harambee House office on Wednesday.

The PS said the government is now mapping out strategies to recover the arms, to ensure they are not used to destabilise the country during next year's General Election.

"This is a very critical period for the country because we are going to the elections, that is why we want to carry out a mop-up exercise before then," he said.

The report shows that illegally owned firearms include those brought in the country through the porous Somalia border while others were stolen from police officers by gangsters.

Iringo said the availability of the illegally owned guns is one of the major challenges the government is facing in restoring security in the country.

"And that is why we are urging people holding these guns to surrender them. Even those in the pastoral communities should bring them. We guarantee them security, they don't have to hold illegal firearms to feel secure," he said.

David Kimaiyo, the Director of the Kenya National Focal Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons said they will work closely with security agents to recover the guns.

"The government is committed to using the information from this undertaking to inform its policies and programmes in the months and years ahead," Kimaiyo said.

The Managing Director of the Small Arms Survey Eric Berman on his part urged the government to implement the report fully, to avoid a recurrence of the armed violence experienced in the country during the disputed post election violence of 2008.

A commission tasked to investigate the violence documented that up to 1,133 people were killed and half a million others displaced during the poll chaos.

"Alongside this growing demand are concerns about the potential proliferation of armed groups and the growth of existing organised gangs," the report states.

The report recommends the establishment of a broad-based reporting and cooperation framework for early warning and early response that should maximise public participation and multi stakeholder engagement.

"Further, there is need to engage community leaders in curbing illicit arms trafficking through the identification of gun runners, trafficking routes and gun markets," the report states.

It also calls for the upgrading of the Kenyan forensic laboratory and acquiring new technological equipment.

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