NATION WILL DISMANTLE WEAPONS SEIZED FROM ILLEGAL SOURCES, MILITARY WEAPONS BEYOND USE
24 May 2006
The nation of Uganda is taking important steps toward reducing the risk of regional arms poliferation, by destroying a stockpile of old and out-of-use weapons and weapons seized from illegal sources. The move is part of Uganda's pledge to the 2004 Nairobi Protocol, which required signatory nations of Africa's Great Lakes region to reduce the threat of proliferation of light arms across borders, to the peril of civilian populations and political stability.
The project begain in Jinja, 80km to the east of Kampala, the capital city, as the military destroyed 7,000 weapons in a steel rolling mill. Those weapons included light arms seized by or put aside by the Ugandan military, dating back to the colonial period and following through up to the present.
The full project, slated to last one month, will be funded by the UN Development Programme. Experts in demobilization of small arms, from both the UN and a South African agency called Safe Africa, will be assisting the Ugandan military with procedure in identifying, examining and disposing of the weapons.
Steel is separated from wood and rubber, and the metal parts are sold as scrap. The revenue from the sales of the scrapmetal are then redirected into the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Defense. The next phase of the project will be the destruction of bombs of varying sizes and other ammunition, at Nakasongola.
A legacy of fractious cross-border warfare throughout the region has left an extensive stock of confiscated, disused or malfunctioning weapons. The problem is such that in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, which suffered a brutal and protracted civil war, a group of artists grabbed world attention by using demobilized weapons to create sculptures, the centerpiece of which is the "Tree of Life", a sign of how imagination and creativity can bring a society past violent conflict as a solution to factional crises. [s]
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