BUJUMBURA - The African Union Year of Peace in the East African Community (EAC) was on Saturday officially launched at a function held in Bujumbura, Burundi.
The launch was signified by lighting the Flame of Peace at Independence Ground in Central Bujumbura.
The occasion, which is in line with the January 2010 AU Heads of State Summit that was held in Addis Ababa where they expressed strong desire to unshackle the African continent from perennial conflicts, saw about 1000 illicit arms destroyed.
The destroyed arms are part of the 21, 000 that have been surrendered by the people of Burundi over the last few years following the civil war that rocked the country for over a decade.
According to statistics from the Regional Centre on Small Arms’ (RESCA) close to 20,000 arms were recovered in 2009 only, through searches and awareness campaigns conducted by Burundi’s National Disarmament Commission.
Over the last three years, over 120, 000 assorted fire arms have also been destroyed in the Partner States.
The launch, was attended by delegates from EAC, AU, COMESA, RESCA and the International Conference in the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), and was presided over by Burundi’s First Deputy President, Yves Sahingumvu.
He acknowledged ‘all the support’ that has been extended to Burundi to ensure its stability and called for more effort in recovering arms from the public, which he said are still are threat to regional stability.
To crystalise this vision, all EAC member states are expected to undertake activities that will highlight the social and economic impact of conflicts on the continent and engage communities in finding durable solutions irrespective of the level in which they occur.
“Removal of excess and illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons from our midst is an exercise Partner States have planned jointly in the last four years. Insecurity also arises from a number of sources among them, conflicts based on governance issues and inequitable distribution of resources, social economic and political,” Beatrice Kiraso, EAC Deputy Secretary General said Kiraso said.
She lauded EAC member states for having prioritized the funding of SALW initiatives.