More weapons surrendered in I. Coast voluntary disarmament
Since the United Nations Mission in the Ivory Coast (UNOCI) began voluntary disarmament of ex-combatants in the Ivorian civil conflict some six months ago, more than 3,500 firearms and over 230,000 rounds of ammunitions as well as dozens of hand grenades have been surrendered.
But some military experts in Abidjan have told West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR) that, it will take Ivory Coast nearly a decade ‘to get rid of all light and small caliber weapons’ circulating in the country, since the end of the post elections armed conflict.
Post election hostilities caused the deaths of over 3,000 people, with thousands of others wounded as well as leaving hundreds of thousands in refugee and IDP camps.
The voluntary weapons surrender operation, which started in October 2011, has continued with dozens of young men who fought during the various battles surrendering their weapons to UN peacekeepers.
WADR’s Abidjan Correspondent Suy Kahofi reports that an assortment of arms and ammunition are being surrendered in the ongoing operations.
The last voluntary weapons handover exercise took place in Abidjan last week.
The Superintendant of the National Committee Against the Proliferation of Small and Light Weapons (COM-NAT-ALPC), Gebrè Leon said the weapons handover operation was so far successful, “thanks to the populations’ commitment.”
But Leon said to successfully retrieve all the weapons, there must a joint action of the civil authorities and the population, because without them or the willingness of the ex-fighters, the weapons surrender operation will not be a success.
People in possession of firearms appeared to have understood it, and they have favorably answered to the call of UNOCI and COM-NAT-ALPC for a new voluntary weapons surrender operation in the Abidjan suburbs of Abobo, Adjamè and Attècoubè.
A number of ex-fighters, who are ready to handover light and small caliber weapons and ammunitions, recently met with experts from the UNOCI and those of COM-NAT-ALPC.
They collect and register the weapons, count and classify them into rounds of ammunitions surrendered before packing them.
During the operations in Abobo, Adjamè and Attècoubè, many Ivorians, mainly young people came to hand in weapons. Weapons turned in were mainly Kalashnikov machine guns, hand grenades, boxes of ammunition or handguns.
Speaking with them, they said they all had good reasons to handover their weapons in the interest of peace in the Ivory Coast.
UNOCI and COM-NAT-ALPC officials say they intend to continue with the weapons handover operation, in order to build a peaceful society help young Ivorians to move forward without fear.
In the wake of the voluntary disarmament operation, Ivorian authorities are now reviewing the law on people being in legal possession of firearms.
Meantime, all permits for carrying arms in the Ivory Coast have been cancelled.
The government has requested those possessing permits to carry arms to have their permits renewed within three months.