RWAMAGANA- The government carried out an exercise to destroy 160 tonnes of ammunition and unexploded ordinances at Gabiro Military Training School yesterday.
“The ammunition and unexploded ordinances include those that were retrieved from different parts of the country and the expired ones that have been in the stores of Rwandan Defence Forces and Rwanda National Police,” Musa Fazil Harerimana, Rwanda’s Minister for Internal Security told officials who turned up at the event.
He explained that former government forces and Interahamwe militias scattered many rounds of ammunition and unexploded ordinances in Rwandan communities, so after their defeat the Government felt a great concern to search for and collect them in order to ensure the security of its citizens.
“Unlike the former government which bought arms and ammunition and distributed them throughout the country to kill people, the current government led by President Paul Kagame, has a vision of providing security as a catalyst for development,” Minister Harerimana said.
He observed that because of the existence of different rebel groups in the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa, there could be a lot of ammunition and unexploded ordinances which are scattered amongst communities thus posing a security threat to innocent civilians.
He noted that Rwanda therefore finds it necessary to cooperate with neighbouring countries in the fight against illegal fire arms and ammunition.
Tharcisse Midonzi, the Regional Representative of the Regional Centre on Small Ammunitions called on regional countries to emulate Rwanda.
He noted that pursuant to the United Nations programme of action, the Bamako Declaration, Nairobi Declaration and Nairobi Protocol, member states are responsible for collecting and destroying expired ammunition and unexploded ordinances.
He, however, argued that this has not been the case as a lot of ammunition and unexploded ordinances are left on the ground, inflicting severe damage on human lives.
Leonard Onyonyi, the coordinator of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the East African Community, called for proper management on small arms and ammunition in the EAC bloc.
“They are a challenge and a threat to lives and they must be controlled,” Onyonyi said.
Superintendent Eric Kayiranga, coordinator of Rwanda National Focal Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons said that about 7,500 small ammunitions and unexploded ordinances have been destroyed since Rwanda started this exercise in 2006.
He explained that 2,600 small arms and light weapons were set on fire in Musha in 2006, followed by 2,500 in Muhanga in 2007; while 2,400 were burnt at Gabiro in yesterday’s event.