Disarming engagement in Central and East Africa: Working to combat the proliferation of small arms

20.01.2020 - Article

Small arms are lethal: they cause most deaths in armed conflicts. In East Africa, the German Government has been working for more than eight years to combat the proliferation of illegal small arms.

The conflicts in East Africa and its neighbouring regions have a considerable impact on people’s security. Large arsenals flowed into the region during the prolonged armed conflicts in Somalia, Libya or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Around eight million illegal weapons are circulating in East Africa and continue to pose a risk to peaceful co-existence in the region. Often the weapons enter a country via ports, are transported inland and then passed from one country to another.

Cross border cooperation

States and regional organisations must work together across borders in order to control the illegal proliferation of small arms. Since 2012, the German Government has been involved in the efforts to prevent the illegal trade in weapons in East Africa through the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC). Nikhil Acharya is working on the ground as a senior technical adviser to BICC. In various projects, he and other experts are assisting national security forces to, for example, secure small arms arsenals and ammunition or – where necessary – to destroy them so that they pose a threat to no-one. The marking of weapons is another important task, for it makes it possible to accurately trace their origin.

Nikhil Acharya captures his impressions in moving images taken with his camera. Here is an insight into his work:

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