Silencing the Guns, Returnees from War Issues: Steps to Sustainable Development in Africa

Shawgei Salah Ahmed – Khartoum

Sustainable development in any place cannot be really sustainable without the presence of security and safety. From this aspect, Africa loses more time and resources whenever the time for resolving armed conflicts in its countries increases.

 Armed conflicts across the African continent have resulted in the deaths of 3.1 to 3.5 million infants (6.6 to 7.3 of all infant deaths over the past 20 years), about 4.9 to 5.5 million children under the age of five (6.6% to 7.4% of all deaths recorded for those under the age of five) between 1995 and 2015, 10 times the global burden of disease estimates for 2015.

The threat is not only due to war and armed conflicts, but other disasters are to the fore, due to droughts, floods, hurricanes, high temperatures and albumen, as well as civil conflicts threatening progress towards achieving food security in many developing countries. Simultaneously, these countries bear the brunt of the world’s natural disasters.

War map in Africa: the main effects on sustainable development

In general, there are direct effects of wars and armed conflicts represented in direct human losses, including the dead, wounded and injured.

On the other hand, the indirect effects on human beings, society and the surrounding environment create an impact that goes beyond what can be counted and estimated in terms of numbers and data.

It is one of the most powerful factors in storming psychological and mental stability, structure and concepts of society, paths of states and their strategies. These effects may persist for several generations or several regions outside the immediate scope of events related to war or armed conflict.

Direct effects on sustainable development

To demonstrate losses in humans, it is possible to note the number of lives lost in one conflict only. The civil war in Southern Sudan (1955-1972 and 1983-2003) claimed more than two million dead, countless other numbers of wounded and disabled. The total numbers of migrations was in double the number of deaths, as four million Sudanese were displaced and became refugees within their homeland.

As for those whose livelihoods narrowed and decided to flee to neighboring countries – while living in inhumane conditions – their numbers reached 420,000 refugees.

On the other hand, armed conflicts in Africa, in addition to the diseases and the hunger they result from, may have caused the death of five million children who did not exceed the age of five years between 1995 and 2015.

Among these children, about three million infants were aged 12 months or less. That number is three times more than people who have been directly killed in the conflict in Africa.

Besides the direct injury of children, conflicts contribute to death and delay in growth “during many years and in large areas”.

Indirect effects on sustainable development

One of the indirect effects of wars and armed conflict is that Africa still faces multiple complex challenges, especially gaps in administration, terrorism, violent extremism, the influx of foreign terrorist fighters from outside the continent, Illicit arms flow, corruption, illicit financial flows, transnational organized crime, drug trafficking, human trafficking, preventing citizens from benefiting from the revenues of natural resources.

The problem of displacement and asylum is one of the biggest impacts resulting mostly from wars and conflicts. The UNHCR has registered the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2018 a total of 30 million people in need of assistance in Africa; this number includes about 7.5 million refugees, 630,000 asylum seekers, one million stateless people, half a million returning refugees.

However, internally displaced people (within the country) remain the largest group in 2014, more than 18 million Africans are considered internally displaced from their countries and are unable to leave them for various reasons.

The continent alone includes a third of the world’s displaced persons, including 6.3 million refugees and asylum seekers, and 14.5 million internally displaced persons.

In addition to about 13.5 million displaced children, according to United Nations data, the number of forcibly displaced people has increased in Africa by 4.6 million people from 2016, bringing their number by the end of 2017 to 24.2 million people, which is it represents a significant burden on the continent’s economy, the environment and the way of life of the host communities.

 Silencing guns initiatives in Africa

The initiative was approved on the month of amnesty by the African Union in 2017, and will be implemented in September of each year in general.

It seeks to protect the continent from the scourge of illicit light weapons, by encouraging and permitting persons to hand over their weapons in exchange for anonymity and immunity from legal prosecution later.

This move supports the African Union Commission, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, and the Regional Center on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa.

7 African countries took action in a qualitative manner by calling up the “African Amnesty Month” initiative to urge citizens to comply with disarmament steps.

The African Union, with financial support from Germany and Japan, took it as part of the efforts to rid this region of illegal weapons, which was the cause of the killing of millions of innocent people.

Silencing the guns initiative is one of the goals of the ten-year plan for the Federation’s Agenda 2063 African Union, aims to make Africa safe and secure, by ending all wars, civil strife, and judiciary.

The initiative comes on the heels practices of violence based on race, gender, or color, and for the prevention of genocide.

 ‘Silencing the Guns’ is part of 15 major projects in Agenda 2063 that have been identified as “Gifs for Accelerated Growth” in Africa, as well as promoting a common identity through the celebration of history and culture. Projects include Infrastructure, education, science and technology, arts and culture, as well as initiatives to secure peace on the continent.

Returnees from war in Africa: Future solutions

In order to pass the African society to the best conditions, it is necessary to draw a future in which the human lives the most basic of his rights, because the issue of conflict resolution is complex from a social, economic and environmental point of view.

All these aspects must be resolved in an integrated manner in order to reach a safe and healthy society, with well-detailed strategic steps, starting with the following: –

The first step is to adopt past experiences in bringing peace and transitional justice such as in Rwanda, include disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programs, which have helped reassure former combatants that they will be reintegrated, not punished.

Post-genocide Rwanda has embraced these programs despite the constant threat of criminal prosecution of perpetrators of genocide.

Most of the fighters who fought alongside the genocidal forces have been in effect and have been re-integrated since 2002. In 2002, Rwanda initiated transitional justice measures, with around 11,000 community courts (Council of Elders) established to try genocide suspects at a lower level.

Approximately 800,000 Rwandans, about a fifth of the population, were charged before these courts, including some high-ranking officers who were integrated into the new army.

The second step is transitional justice, which is known as a package of arrangements that includes the legal, social, psychological, and financial side, in addition to defining injustice as a practice rather than as individuals or groups.

Transitional justice arrangements are intended to absorb the anger resulting from injustice that, if allowed to express itself, would cause severe damage on the one hand, and to prepare souls and elevate them towards the ideal status that society in all its segments aspires to on the other hand.

In this, we will discuss the countries that have implemented transitional justice and the reason for their success in moving to a stable situation that witnessed sustainable development and prosperity after turning the page on the past.

The third step is to establish an infrastructure for sustainable development for returnees from war, as the simplest entitlement to stop wars and conflicts is to exclude people from returning to war again, and this is to integrate returnees from war into the peace community, working on peaceful transformation by providing the basics for a decent life such as eliminating hunger and poverty, and providing strong infrastructure for education and health, to prevent these trained forces from returning to war and training them again in peace and peace building trades.

 This is very possible if the conflicts in the region recede, the peaceful transition to democracy will enhance economic growth by encouraging investment, education, and economic reforms to achieve public benefit and reduce social unrest.

The World Bank estimates show that if the countries of the Middle East and North Africa – which are the least democratic countries in the world – were able to transform into full-fledged democracies, the GDP growth rate is expected to increase from 3.3%, as is currently expected, to 7.8%. Within five years.

The fourth step is human development for returnees from the war.

In 1990, the United Nations Development Program adopted a concept for human development, according to which people were defined as “the maker and goal of development,” based on the fact that human beings are important to the true wealth of nations, and that the capabilities of any nation reside in what you own from qualified and trained human energies, able to adapt and deal with any new.

In 2002, the program adopted a concept of human development as an alternative to human development. In its first report entitled “Arab Human Development for the Year,” 2002, which defined human development as “a process of expanding economic, social, political and cultural options,” and aims to “develop people for the sake of people,” By people, “and it includes building human capabilities through resource development.

Therefore, this concept can be applied by creating distorted professions for returnees from war that enable them to continue in a peaceful environment and enable them to deal with the disastrous effects of wars.”

In the end, sustainable development needs constant care and always striving for a person to have a full opportunity to live in freedom and dignity. All humanity recognizes this principle, all humanity supports this right, and this is what Africa must adhere to stops all wars for this great dream in order to achieve a safe and stable continent.

Shawgei Salah can be contacted at

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