Religious leaders to meet over drug abuse

Bishop Alex Birindabagabo, the chairperson of the Purpose Driven Ministries’ PEACE Plan. Net photo.

A new campaign against drug abuse will bring together over 1,500 decision-makers for a dialogue on drug abuse at Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village next week, Rwandan religious leaders have announced.

The campaign is part of an initiative that involves churches in fighting drug abuse.

In the beginning of 2018, a council composed of faith-based organisations, church leaders and civil society was established through Rwanda Governance Board.

According to Bishop Alex Birindabagabo, the chairperson of the Purpose Driven Ministries’ PEACE Plan, the council works closely with the National Task Force for Drugs Education.

The task force is composed of six ministries and other institutions.

He said the two-week campaign dubbed; “Goliath collapses”, will be followed by Rwanda Shima Imana, the national thanksgiving festival that will be held across the country.

“It will be spreading the message about fighting drug abuse and will reach over three million people, especially the youth,” he said.

“In the previous campaigns, we carried out an assessment and found that 67 per cent of those who had been targeted quit drugs and got baptised and others formed associations,” he said.

ADEPR Legal Representative, Rev. Euphrem Karuranga, said that they also play a role in reintegrating rehabilitated youth.

“We are involved in reintegrating some youths who used to be addicted to drugs and were rehabilitated at Iwawa Rehabilitation Centre. We do follow-ups to make sure they do not fall back into drug abuse,” he said.

According to police figures, 4,149 people were arrested over drug-related crimes last year, with over 71 per cent of them aged between 18 and 35 years.

At least 48 drug dealers who were arrested last year were aged below 18 years, according to the Force.

In the last five years, police recorded 18,383 cases related to narcotic drugs.

Between 2010 and 2015, the neuro-psychiatric hospital of Ndera received 1,432 patients with mental illness caused by use of drugs, according to statistics from Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC).

The number increased to 2,804 in 2016 before decreasing to 1,960 last year.