Rwanda National Police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Theos Badege, has called on youth to join efforts in the fight against drug trafficking and abuse.
He made the call at an event held in Kigali’s Petit Stade in Remera on Thursday while closing a week-long campaign against drug abuse.
The campaign involved various activities such as sensitisation against the use of cannabis and illicit alcohol among the general public, schools, and transporters, among other groups.
“We should join efforts with the police and other authorities to ensure that there are no more drugs sneaked into Rwanda by tightening security at all the identified drug trafficking routes and random border posts,” Badege said.
Routes for the drugs include porous border points with Uganda which are used for smuggling an illicit brew, kanyanga, and DR Congo for cannabis.
“There is also need for parents’ efforts and religious leaders in the sensitisation and awareness campaigns for the youth,” the officer noted.
A study conducted by the Ministry of Youth and ICT in collaboration with Kigali Health Institute (KHI) in 2011 shows that 52.5 percent of the youth aged between 14 and 35 years in Rwanda had consumed one or more drug substances at least once in their life time.
The study showed that due to regular substance or drug use, one young man or woman out of thirteen (7.46 %) are alcohol dependent, while one young man or woman out of twenty (4.88%) suffered from nicotine dependence. 2.54% were cannabis dependent.
Local journalist Daniel Sibomana who used to be a drug addict testified about the ills brought by drug abuse.
“I started the drugs when I was fourteen , but this was because I lost all my parents and relatives in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. I used to take it to forget the past, but I realised it did not solve anything, instead it was destroying me,” he said.
The survivor of both the genocide and drug addiction said that he grew up still taking the drugs and dropped out of school.
“By the time I came to my senses, I realised that my wife had left me, but this was after getting clear counselling and treatment which made me a better person now,” he said.
He called on the youth to stop the drugs, describing them as something which does not develop someone but instead spoils their brains.
Experts say that drug abuse is often the reason behind other crimes such as theft, assault, and sexual and domestic violence.
The United Nations has set June 26 as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.