Cameroon Needs Help to Stop Flow of Illegal Weapons

The African Union Commission's Economic, Social and Cultural Council estimates at least 120 000 small arms and light weapons in illegal circulation in Cameroon, including revolvers, pistols, rifles, assault rifles and machine guns.

The proliferation of illegal arms increases violence and insecurity in a country already grappling with violent extremist attacks and a separatist conflict. On 8 June, Cameroon's House Speaker of the National Assembly, Cavayé Yéguié Djibril, said illicit weapons held by civilians should be retrieved with urgency amid rising criminality and insecurity.

Cameroon has a long history as a source, transit and destination country for arms trafficking. The Multinational Joint Task Force's efforts to boost border security between Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria are insufficient. A fundamental problem is a lack of resources to recruit, train and support the military and the operational demands of tackling arms trafficking. There is also little evidence of collaboration among defence intelligence units of the three countries.

Stabilising the situation should be a priority for Cameroon. However, it should be handled as part of a plan to invest in human and infrastructural development in the north of the country. Addressing the region's underlying challenges is essential for long-term stability, which at present seems unattainable writes Oluwole Ojewale for Institute for International Studies.

InFocus

Houses destroyed during battles with Boko Haram in Kousseri, Cameroon on June 11, 2019.

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