More than 100 small arms to be destroyed in Diffa

Niamey- Niger (PANA) -- More than 100 small arms will be destroyed Thursday in Diffa, 1,500 km east of Niamey, at a ceremony sponsored by the National Commission for the Collection and Control of Illicit Weapons, the Niger News Agency (ANP) has reported.
Quoting a UN Development Programme (UNDP) statement, ANP said the move was in fulfilment of a commitment the local and international communities made to consolidate peace and national concord.
ANP added that this decision by the Niger authorities follows a recommendation from the third meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the International Conference on the Illegal Trade of Small Arms which started from 9 July and ends on 20 July in New York.
Participants at the meeting recommended that the first day of their proceedings should be declared as the "day for the destruction of light arms.
" The UN thus appealed to member states to systematically destroy the weapons collected as well as the surplus in their official stocks.
"Niger has adopted that approach," the statement said, adding that "the authorities of the Fifth Republic, and more specifically President Mamadou Tandja, have made this their credo.
" The government chose to carry out the operation in Diffa because the area hosts a pilot project on "development against weapons," under which people have voluntarily handed over a significant stock of weapons since the "peace flame" ceremony was held on 25 September 2000 in Agadez.
Niger is supported in this approach by the UNDP and several bilateral partners such as Italy, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, France, Belgium and Japan.
The International Conference on the Illicit Trade of Light Arms is aimed at mobilising, through the media, the ownership and interest of development partners in collecting and destroying weapons, as well as the socio-economic re-integration of former fighters.
Over 500 million light arms are circulating around the world, which represent about one weapon per 12 people, according to UNDP figures.
Light weapons were the most commonly used in 46 of the 49 major conflicts in the world since 1990, and they have killed four million people, of whom 90 percent were civilians and 80 percent women and children, the same source added.

19 july 2001 11:50:00

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