Kenya on Tuesday destroyed some 5,250 illegal firearms by setting them ablaze.
The last time Kenya lit a big fire as that of Tuesday was in April when as part of their fight against poaching, Kenya set ablaze some 120 tonnes of Ivory at the Nairobi National Park.
So why did the country burn these arms? The move forms part of efforts to fight crimes like cattle rustling, carjackings and to eliminate threats from terrorism.
Here in Kenya, small arms are implicated in many deaths, in acts of armed violence, among them inter community conflicts, cattle rustling, violent crimes and poaching.
How did they assemble the pile?
The destroyed weapons were gotten through two main means.
1. Confiscation by law enforcement officials
2. Voluntary surrender to agents collecting illegal small arms and light weapons.
Deputy President William Ruto said before the weapons were set ablaze, “Here in Kenya, small arms are implicated in many deaths, in acts of armed violence, among them inter community conflicts, cattle rustling, violent crimes and poaching.
“Their presence has also intensified the threats posed by transnational crimes such as terrorism, human trafficking, piracy and drug trafficking,” he added.
Al Shabaab – Kenya’s main terror threat
Somalia’s insurgent group al Shabaab, which seeks to overthrow the country’s Western-backed government and impose a strict version of sharia – Islamic law, has carried out regular assaults in neighboring Kenya in recent years as retaliation for Kenya contributing troops to an African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia.
Kenya last burnt a similar collection of illegal weapons in 2003, 2005 and 2010.
Africa has been prone to small arms proliferation which has in turn resulted in political and social unrests in most parts of the continent. Reinforcing existing small arms treaties at the national, subregional and the continental levels are seen as important to maintain stability and peace in Africa.
The African Union says there is the need for a concerted effort to combat trade in illicit small arms and light weapons which continue to cause untold suffering and pain, threatening the peace and security of the region.
According to the United Nations Office on Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), ‘‘Illicit flows of small arms and light weapons undermine security and the rule of law. They are often a factor behind the forced displacement of civilians and massive human rights violations.’‘
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