AU calls for urgent collection of illicit arms in Africa

The African Union (AU) Commission on Saturday disclosed an urgent need to collect illicit weapons in possession of civilians in Africa as an estimated 40 million weapons presently under the possession of civilians across the continent.

   The statement was made by Smail Chergui, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, in a statement issued in relation to the Africa Amnesty Month, which is the implementation of the AU theme of the year 2020 “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”.

   The Africa Amnesty Month, which is an integral aspect of the African Union Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa, was declared during the 29th summit of the AU that was held in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia back in July 2017, which declared the month of September of each year as the Africa Amnesty Month for the surrender and collection of illicit arms.

   “We are currently undertaking the collection of illicit weapons in possession of civilians. The AU Peace and Security Commission, in partnership with Small Arms Survey, undertook a Mapping Study on Illicit Small Arms Flows in Africa recently and one significant finding of the study, was the number of civilian-held weapons in the African continent, which was estimated at forty million as of 2017,” the AU Peace and Security Commissioner said.

   According to the AU, the estimated 40 million civilian-held weapons in the African continent accounts for about 80 percent of all arms on the continent.

   “This includes private individuals, registered businesses such as private security companies, and non-state armed groups. This is as opposed to the estimate of the continent’s armed forces and law enforcement agencies that hold less than 11 million arms,” Chergui said.

   From the 40 million civilian-held weapons, about 5.8 million are recorded as being officially registered, while about 16 million are unregistered. The status of the remaining more than 18 million is unclear, according to the AU.

   “This is a cause for concern for all of us,” Chergui said, as he emphasiSed that “we need to redouble our efforts to address this challenge, which in fact is a very serious threat to peace, governance and development.” -Xinhua

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