Rwanda has destroyed more than 50 tonnes of redundant and expired weapons.
The exercise, conducted by Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) in partnership with the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, Horn of Africa and Bordering States (RECSA), seeks to rid the east African nation of dangerous weapons and limit crime in society.
The ammunitions that were set on fire at Gabiro Military Barracks in the country’s Eastern Nyagatare district include grenades and bombs in compliance with the non-proliferation of Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW).
Speaking to reporters shortly after the exercise Thursday, Theoneste Mutsindashyaka, RECSA executive secretary, said that the demolition aimed to do away with volumes of dangerous weapons that are no longer required and have expired.
“If these weapons are not destroyed, they will be more dangerous to the population than the minor environmental damage resulting from their destruction. We have seen buried explosives injure and kill people,” he added.
Destruction of arms is a regular exercise in Rwanda since 1994 where 52,807 tons of ammunitions and arms were destroyed from RDF stores.
According to RECSA, Africa loses about 18 billion U.S. dollars annually as a result of armed conflicts.
In February 2011, close to 26 people were killed and over 300 injured by explosions of expired arms in the Gombo la Mboto military camp in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
In April 2012, about 200 people died when an arms’ dump exploded in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo.
RECSA is an intergovernmental organization established in June 2005. It is mandated to address the proliferation of illicit SALW and to provide a favourable environment for sustainable development in member countries.
Current members of RESCA include Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Somalia, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Djibouti, Eritrea, Seychelles, Sudan, Uganda and South Sudan.