Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF), in partnership with the Regional Center on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and Bordering States (RESCA), on Monday started an exercise to destroy and dispose of 130 tons of unexploded ordnance and waste ammunition.

The eight-day exercise is being conducted at the RDF’s Gabiro military domain, Gatsibo district, in Eastern Province. The ammunition that will be disposed of include land mines, bombs and shells.

RESCA is an intergovernmental organization with the mandate to address the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons to provide a conducive environment for sustainable development.

“This destruction exercise demonstrates Rwanda’s commitment to implementing the Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa,” said RDF Army Chief of Staff Jacques Musemakweli. “Rwanda has dedicated to make the security of its people a priority.”

The “Rwandan liberation struggle” during the 1990s and armed insurgency by genocidal forces and other security challenges following the 1994 genocide in the region were responsible for the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, he said.

Theoneste Mutsindashyaka, executive secretary of RESCA, said that the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons is posing a serious threat to safety and security of people in the region.

“If the ammunition is not disposed of and destroyed, they will be more dangerous to the population than the minor environmental damage resulting from their destruction,” he said. “The demolition of the waste ammunition also helps to avoid the risk of such old corrosive and volatile items from exploding while in storage, causing harm and death.”

Africa loses about 18 billion U.S. dollars annually as a result of armed conflict, according to RECSA, which comprises Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Somalia, Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Seychelles, Sudan, Uganda and South Sudan. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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