A campaign to raise awareness against banned drugs in the country was launched yesterday in schools.
The official launch was held in three schools in the City of Kigali. They are Lycee de Kigali, Ecole Camp Kigali, and Groupe Scolaire Ndera.
The latest police campaign comes at a time when the government is scaling up efforts to save the young generation from the effects of drug abuse, said to be the single most important obstacle to youth development.
Reports indicate that majority of addicts undergoing rehabilitation in various centres fall in the age bracket of those supposed to be either in school or part of the labour force.
More than 4000 addicted youth are currently undergoing rehabilitation at Iwawa Rehabilitation and Vocational Skills Development Centre (IRVSDC) and Gitagata rehabilitation centre.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Damas Gatare, the commissioner for community policing in Rwanda National Police, while addressing students at Ecole Camp Kigali, said that cannabis, gins like kanyanga and others packed in plastic bags, as well as other locally made substances, are the common drugs in Rwanda largely used by the youth.
The government spends about Rwf70 million every month on Iwawa alone, and over Rwf8 million on Gitagata.
Statistics indicate that 18 per cent of all the 3941 cases recorded by the police last year were related to drugs.
The report further shows that a total of 4149 people were arrested in drug related crimes in the same period, with over 71 per cent of them aged between 18 and 35 years.
"Illicit drugs have serious health repercussions on users causing heart and mental illnesses. It is also one of the major factors fueling domestic conflicts and gender violence and that affect resource development and labour force," ACP Gatare told the students.
Health experts say that some of heart, liver, kidney and mental cases have been attributed to abuse of narcotic drugs.
Gatare urged the students to focus on their education but also report people they suspect to be drug dealers or who attempt to lure them into drug abuse.
The campaign is designed to enlighten the students on the dangers of drug abuse and legal repercussions.
This is part of national efforts to prevent new users, rehabilitate addicts, and disrupt the local market for the banned substances.
The awareness drive in schools also tackles the issue of pregnancies as well as raising awareness about human trafficking.
The outreach programme continues this Wednesday in other schools in Kigali and in the upcountry districts of Nyagatare, Rusizi, Gicumbi, Karongi and Kirehe.