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Sierra Leone destroys 4773 weapons collected with UNDP support Options
Natalie Wilkins
Posted: Thursday, September 27, 2012 3:10:10 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/27/2008
Posts: 406
Location: London, UK
4,773 Firearms Symbolically Destroyed in Makeni City

By Mohamed Kabba for Awoko

The national secretariat of Sierra Leone National Commission on Small Arms (SLeNCSA) have symbolically burned four thousand seven hundred and seventy three (4,773) firearms that were collected by the UNDP-supported Arms for Development project which marked the climax of a process that started some 8 years ago. The ceremony took place at the Makeni Mena police field and drew the attention of all paramount chiefs in the North, government officials, military personnel, the police, press and other stakeholders within the country.

In his keynote statement on behalf of the President, the minister of Defence Major (Rtd) Alfred Paolo Conteh, described the ceremony as not only symbolic but also historic especially so when the collection process had concluded over five years. He expressed thanks and appreciation to UNDP for jointly supporting the program with the government of Sierra Leone.
The Defence Minister measured that, ”the symbolic destruction and burning of collected 4,773 fire arms and weapons in the north is a significant mile stone by government to provide safety security for the people and their properties. In this notes government have instituted through the parliament the new arms Act that clearly stated how individual must acquire arms in the country.”

The minister Paolo Conteh, said six years ago member states on the ECOWAS Countries in their quest to control the illegal proliferation of arms and light weapons in the sub region came up with the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and light Weapon. This according to him was to ensure member states formed a separate department to monitor the flow in and out of weapons and ammunition which was the more reason why SLeNCSA was formed.

The minister expressed government gratitude to UNDP for been there at a time when weapons were in the hands of wrong people as a result of our war especially in giving their technical and financial support in the Arms for Development program. He said government have went steeps forward in ensuring that the country is free of illegal arms and light weapons with the establishment of the new Arms Act in July 2011, the proper surveillance of flow of firearms and light weapons will be effective.

The commissioner of SLeNCSA Brig. (Rtd) Modibo Leslie Lymon, said the symbolic burning of 4,73 weapons in Makeni came about as a result of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration programme in 2002, a police-led Community Arms Collection and destruction 1 and 2 was done around the country to ensure that peaceful citizens went about their business free from fear or treat of arms violence and gun related criminal offences.

The Retired Brigadier went on that, ”after the traumatisation experience of war, evidence of armed violence and gun related criminal offences were on the increased particularly in rural communities”. He said, ”that state of affairs had the potential to impart negatively on the post-war social and economic recovery efforts of the government and its development partners.”
Commissioner Modibo Leslie Lymon described the Arms for Development Program that was launched in 2004 by UNDP and government as very timely and laudable noting that, the project is a community disarmament initiative linking security to development through an approach of promoting the voluntary surrender of weapons in exchange for development. This according to him was to ensure full voluntary removal of illicit weapons from the communities and curb the then rising spate of armed robbery and other gun related criminal activities.

The ceremony was chair b the Provincial Secretary North Raymond S. Gbindi, witness by the Inspector General of Police, UNDP representatives, Paramount chiefs in the north, the press and other senior government officials.
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