Posted by Innocent Odoh, Abuja | 19 September 2018 | 1,230 times
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has disclosed that about 100 million small arms and light weapons are in circulation illegally in Africa, stressing that there are about 10 million of such illegal arms in West Africa out of about 800 million illegal arms in circulation around the world.
The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean -Claude Brou, disclosed this while fielding questions during a high-level meeting between regional organisations in the Sahel region held at the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja on Tuesday.
Represented by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Francis Behanzin, the President lamented the disturbing situation as one of the major factors fueling terrorism and other forms of violent crimes and armed conflicts across West Africa and the Sahel. He added that the international arms market is worth $1.3 annually even as he lamented the difficulties in curbing the proliferation of illicit arms in the region.
He however, noted that concerted efforts are being made by the ECOWAS, the Sahel region, the United Nations and other institutions to curb the menace, adding that they have developed a strategy to curb terrorism and violent extremism and radicalism through the Prevention, Repression and the Reconstruction of areas affected by terrorism and other forms of conflicts through the UN-backed Rapid Impact Programme.
The high Representative of the African Union for Mali and Sahel, Pierre Buyoya, who spoke through a representative, called for a more sustainable strategy for inclusive economic development in West Africa and the Sahel to cater to the needs of a growing population of especially of the youth. He added that Africa needs to make more effort to tap its enormous natural and human resources.
Earlier in his remarks, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Mohammed Ibn Chambers, also bemoaned that the security situation in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin remains fragile as increasing violence has bedevilled countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria.
He said “violence and terrorist activities, as well as conflicts between nomadic herders and farmers, take an alarming toll on the population and future generations. The violence related to pastoralism is particularly concerning as it increases in frequency, intensity, complexity and geographic scope”.
He also blamed the crises on the continuous impact of climate change and food insecurity on the Sahel population, saying “socioeconomic inequalities, including the lack of access to basic rights, services and economic opportunities, violence and challenges to the role and participation of women, continue to hamper progress and development.”
He, however, noted that enormous responses have been made by the ECOWAS, the Sahel authorities and the United Nations to address the issues specific in terms and gaps in coordination and harmonisation identified during the meetings of the Ministerial Platform of coordination of Sahel strategies since 2014 are being addressed.
He assured of the continuous commitment of ECOWAS and the United Nations to working in concert with the Sahel region to bring lasting peace, stability and inclusive, sustainable development to the Sahel.
•Sourced from a BusinessDay report
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