The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Eastern Province Urged to Check Increasing Drug Abuse

Rwamagana — Parents, local leaders and other actors in the Eastern Province need to play an active role in checking the growing trend of drug abuse in the province, Police has said.

Chief Supt. Peter Hodari, the Eastern Regional Police Commander, described the situation as "disheartening" and called for an all-inclusive campaign against drug abuse in the region.

He was addressing a provincial stakeholder's meeting in Rwamagana on Thursday.

Hodari urged grassroots leaders to take the issue seriously, adding that drug dealers had infiltrated the communities.

"We cannot afford to look on as our children get involved in such nasty behaviour," he warned.

"The trend of drug abuse among both adults and adolescents is of great concern, we need a concerted campaign against this problem," he noted, adding that marijuana and Kanyanga, a local gin, were among the illicit products.

Hodari observed that a high percentage of criminals arrested by the police abused drugs, saying that drug addiction is a "catalyst to robbery, domestic violence and homicide."

Nyagatare mayor Fred Atuhe Sabiti, whose district is reported to be the most affected, lamented that fighting proliferation of drugs has proved to be a battle hard to win.

He said that fighting drug trafficking and abuse required regional efforts, as opposed to a single country.

He said his district's location - along borders with Uganda and Tanzania - had made it highly prone to smuggled illicit drugs.

"I am not surprised Nyagatare district ranks number one in the province in drug abuse. The main problem lies with our porous borders...the vigilance with which (regional) countries fight the drugs don't match...as a result, traffickers find their way into Rwanda through Nyagatare," he said.

The mayor advised that standard alcohol quality should be agreed upon by regional countries.

"There is some alcohol type known as Furaha that's accepted and sold in some parts of the region...this is equivalent to Kanyanga. Unless we reach a common understanding on what is right or what's wrong, I am afraid we shall remain in this dilemma," Sabiti explained.

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