'Light firearms registration progressing successfully in Darfur'

Khartoum, Sudan (PANA) - Although protracted civil war and other violent activities have led to the proliferation of hundreds of thousands of light weapons in the hands of civilians, mostly herders, nomads and farmers, in Darfur, recent government efforts to mop up those weapons have started paying off.

The spread of weapons in the society is complicating an already-fragile tribal balance and making the tasks of African peacekeepers much more difficult in Darfur, according to the semi-official Sudan media centre (SMC) on Friday.

It reported that although registration was slow, it was a better way of having them taken away from private individuals.

Reporting from Nyala, capital of South Darfur region, the SMC said a multi-stakeholder commission, headed by a retired police colonel, has managed to register 15,000 weapons so far, almost half of the target it set.

“The Higher commission for the registration and legalization of fire arms has managed to register 15,000 pieces in the hands of individuals, thanks to the cooperation of the local administration and the people in the region,” Colonel Ahmed Yusuf Rabih.

Colonel Rabih said the target was to register a minimum of 30,000 pieces from South Darfur state. The region of Darfur is composed of five states -- North Darfur, East Darfur, South Darfur, West Darfur and Central Darfur -- near the borders with South Sudan, Libya, Chad and Central Africa.

The region witnessed the influx of firearms shortly after conflict flared in Chad in the early 1980s, followed by leakage of arms and undercover support from the Mouammar Kadhafi regime, and then the war with then South Sudan rebels.

One of the means used to stop the Southern rebellion from spreading to Western Sudan was to train local nomads on how to defend themselves and since then the possession of fire arms became the norm.

But with the outbreak of rebellion in Darfur itself about a decade ago, the problems of fire arms and attack against forces and government positions, and even the African Union-United Nations peacekeepers, became aggravated.

The SMC quoted Colonel Rabih as saying: "A peace document signed in Doha would be difficult to implement without controlling small fire arms spread and promoting the culture of peace.

“We need more material resources so as to reach the far localities and remote areas.”

PANA reports that clashes between nomads and farmers became rampant in the region for decades although reconciliation efforts came in handy to end the conflict.

PANA recalls that victims of such clashes were few when bows and arrows were the most lethal weapons. Today, fire arms have made the simplest clash deadlier than any protracted fighting.
-0- PANA MO/VAO 23Nov2012

23 november 2012 17:00:49

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