“The Spread of small arms creates a serious global problem and requires an equally urgent response because the lives and future of children are at stake. These weapons have extinguished more young lives than they have protected.”
Long after peace agreements have been signed and the soldiers have gone home, the high prevalence of small arms in post-conflict society perpetuates a culture of violence.
Some former combatants view the gun as their means to economic survival. In other cases, civilians arm themselves to protect their families and property. Children are then exposed to the dangers of weapons within their own homes, resulting in a vicious cycle of crime and violence.
When we talk of small arms we refer to hand-guns, assault rifles, grenades and landmines, among others, which have terrorized people during and after wars.
One half billion light weapons are circulating throughout the world - one for every 12 people...these arms are cheap, readily available, and easy to use.
The famous AK-47 (also known as Kalashnikov) assault rifle costs as little as the price of a chicken in Uganda or a bag of maize in Mozambique. Small arms and light weapons are used in internal conflicts, crime and violence.
They are associated with murder, suicide, injury, psychosocial trauma, assault, robbery and rape. Their widespread availability leads to the militarization of society, and undermines post-war reconstruction.
The great lakes region and Rwanda in particular has been faced with small arms related problems and in the same respect, Central Firearms Registry and Community Policing (both departments of National Police) in conjunction with the National Focal Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons NFP/SALW have initiated sensitization activities in Rwandan citizens.
The objective of these sensitization activities is to retrieve the maximum number of small arms possible from the community and finally make Rwanda an illegal-arms free state and why not zero tolerance on firearms-related crimes?
They also aim at sensitizing the entire community on better means of survival and developmental programs initiated by the government.
These sensitization activities have started in the areas which have ranked most vulnerable given the history of our dear nation.
These include the districts which were affected by insurgences in the north and western regions of the country between1996-2000 such as Rubavu, Karongi, Rusizi, Nyamasheke, Nyabihu and Ngororero.
Such awareness campaigns are intended to cover whole Rwandan territory with more emphasis in the city of Kigali which now ranks high in firearms-relates offences.
Some of the achievements registered in these campaigns include but are not limited to the following;
o In all Districts visited a high level of awareness in all aspects (social, security, political, economic and legal) was evident.
o Voluntary community parties’ participation in development and other emergency meetings with full cooperation.
o Cooperation of all stake holders in virtually all government entities within sectorial settings.
o Community readiness to receive, integrate and monitor daily life of new returnees including demobilized soldiers.
o Community Policing concept well understood by community who interpret it as a rational option for security and safety of the citizenry.
o A number of firearms have been retrieved from the citizenry.
The partners in these efforts range from Local administrative authorities, such as District and Sector authorities, Community Policing Committees, Local Defense Forces and all state security organs including National Police and Defense Forces among others.
For comments, questions or any firearms-related information, please reach us on;
Hot line: 112