Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) on Monday launched an eight-day disposal and destruction operation of more than 130 tonnes of unexploded ordinance and waste ammunition.
The exercise that is being carried out in Gabiro military domain, Gatsibo district in the Eastern Province, is part of Rwanda’s continued efforts to control the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
Speaking shortly before the first detonation, Theoneste Mutsindashyaka, the Executive Secretary of the Regional Centre on Small Arms (RESCA), said that the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons is ranked as one of the most pressing security threats in the world today.
Mutsindashyaka said: “It is estimated that only a quarter of the millions of small arms in circulation worldwide are held by states; leaving the rest to the discretion of civilians and non-state actors. This means that governments across the world equally face the challenges posed by the proliferation and abuse of small arms and light weapons.
“In the great lakes and horn of Africa region, illicit circulation of small arms is both a cause and a manifestation of insecurity and fragility. The illegal Small Arms and Light Weapon fuel political instability, sustain armed conflicts, abet terrorism, wildlife poaching, cattle rustling, and promote socio-economic instability which slows down development. During times of crisis and fragility, there is uninhibited circulation and trafficking of arms which remain within borders long after the conflicts end. The remnants of war are an equal threat to human beings.”
With most of the weapons being diverted from state to non-state actors, Mutsindashyaka explained that it is crucial that governments take adequate measures to enhance the security and management of their weapons and ammunition to prevent their spill into wrong hands.
Speaking on behalf of the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF), Army Chief of Staff, Maj Gen Jacques Musemakweli, told officials at the event that the latest demolition of hazardous explosives portrays Rwanda’s galvanized commitment to doing away with the latter and implementing the Nairobi protocol to which is a party, in addition to safeguarding the safety of Rwandans.
“The country has dedicated to make the security of its people a priority. This demolition follows other several demolitions in the past that began in 1994,” he said.
In the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the ministry of defence set up a demining office that was specifically charged with combing the country to demine undetonated explosives that put people’s lives in danger.