The New Times (Kigali)

East Africa: EAC Observes Week of Action Against Gun Violence

The Global Week of Action against Gun Violence in East Africa kicked off in Kampala, Uganda on June, 18 with a series of activities to raise awareness of how gun violence occurs, its impact on people's lives and what should be done to stop the "Gun-Culture".

The event is coordinated by the EAC Secretariat in collaboration with the Uganda-based Eastern Africa Action Network on Small Arms (EAANSA) and the German International Cooperation agency (GIZ).

The week will include activities such as visits to gun victims, radio and TV talk shows, distribution of brochures, photo displays, lobbying and advocacy targeting governments, all aimed at engaging more people in the global movement against gun violence.

The week also highlights the need by states to negotiate a binding arms trade treaty that will include strong measures to combat gun violence and to take specific measures to strengthen the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in all its aspects.

Uganda's Minister for Internal Affairs Hon. Hilary Onek stated that the major objective of the action week is to highlight the growing menace of gun violence and to address its deadly consequences.

"Proliferation of illicit small arms is not only a regional concern but also a global problem requiring international efforts to address it," he stated, adding that the aspects of armed violence are taking an extremely destructive path.

"These activities have now transcended from the renowned usage of small arms to include terrorism activities that cause mass destruction of lives and property," the Minister said, calling for swift action to control the situation.

Uganda's National Focal Point (NFP) coordinator Mr. Ahmed Wafuba said Kampala had so far destroyed 97,000 pieces of assault and firearms over a period of three years.

"The government has also taken necessary steps to strengthen its gun control measures and is seriously undertaking action to ensure that cases of gun violence are dealt with effectively," Mr. Wafuba observed.

In his message, the EAC Peace and Security Expert Mr. Leonard Onyonyi implored Partner States to empower the NFPs to ensure sustainability of SALW interventions, based on the foundation laid by seed funding from the European Union (EU) and GIZ.

Preparations to address the absence of globally agreed rules for all countries to guide their decisions on arms transfers have been underway since 2006 and are culminating into the UN conference in New York to run from 2 to 27 July this year.

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