Rwanda Defence Forces in collaboration with Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA) destroyed 55 tonnes of unexploded ordnances, expired munitions and faulty explosives.
The exercise was carried out by open burning and destruction on Thursday at Gabiro Combat Training Centre in the Eastern Province.
The explosives included ammonium nitrate, electric and non-electric detonators, dynamite, and safety fuse, among others.
The exercise is part of the implementation of the 2004 Nairobi Protocol on prevention, control and reduction of small arms and light weapons.
The United States supported the exercise, providing arms marking machines and training.
The event was graced by RDF’s army chief of staff, Major General Jacques Musemakweli, among other officials.
As a result of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, liberation war and their aftermath, arms proliferation in Rwanda was high prompting efforts to get rid of illegal small arms and weapons.
Stockpiles of expired explosives imported by mining companies were also unprofessionally handled and were collected for disposal to reduce the harm and danger posed by those explosives.
Theoneste Mutsindashyaka, executive secretary of RECSA, commended Rwanda for being consistent in its destruction exercises.
“RECSA member states are committed to the prevention, control and reduction of small arms and light weapons. I want to commend Rwanda for different interventions it has under taken to deliver on this objective,” he said.
He cited the country’s community policing initiatives to manage crime, championing marking and electronic arms record keeping for both the police and military, creation of lower level small arms and light weapons control committees and awareness campaigns on the dangers of their proliferation, and development of a national policy.
Mutsindashyaka said that proliferation in arms is one of the biggest challenges facing many countries in Africa, causing deaths, fuelling conflicts, retarding development, and abetting terrorism, and wildlife poaching.
Mutsindashyaka called on nations to work together in prevention of arms proliferation.
“Some countries in the region are experiencing long standing wars and conflicts that facilitate arms proliferation. There is need to work together. If some countries remain reluctant, one country’s efforts are futile,” he said.
According to the recent report dubbed “Analysis of Armed Crime Rates”, Rwanda registered the lowest rate of armed crimes in Africa.
In 2003, Rwanda established a department to fight small arms and later enacted regulations that helped curb arms proliferation. Arms electronic record keeping is one of the measures taken to avoid arms proliferation, according to Emmanuel Misingo Karara, the national focal point for small arms and light weapons.
The three-day destruction exercise is the sixth since 1994. An estimated 52, 807 tonnes of ammunition were demolished between 1994 and 2011.