Muawad Mustafa Rashid
Citizens and officials in Darfur expressed concerns about the widespread availability of firearms in the hands of people, pointing out that this has led to rampant crimes, kidnapping, and looting
The spread of firearms is still the main obstacle for the voluntary return and repatriation of the IDPs to their home villages.
According to official figures, what was collected from the citizens doesn’t exceed 20% of the available firearms during the collection campaign. This means that there are 80% of illegal firearms still available in the hands of the citizens.
Since the last years of the ousted regime, the successive governments were prioritizing the issue of firearms collection in its agenda as the key towards achieving stability all over the country and the Darfur region in particular.
The most recent of activities was the formation of the National Project of Firearms Collection to handle the issue.
First Vice President of the Transitional Sovereign Council, 1st Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, received a few weeks ago in his office at the Republican Palace, the recommendations of the National Project of Firearms Collection (The Achievements, the Challenges, and the Roadmap), organized by the African Centre for Governance, Peace, and Transformation in collaboration with the High Committee of Firearms and non-codified Collection.
The FVP pledged in his addressing the concluding session of the seminar, to implement the recommendation and follow it up till the results are seen on the ground, pointing out the importance of the continuation of workshops and seminars to achieve the aspired goals.
The recommendations emphasized the importance of perfect planning for firearms collection, besides adding a fifth stage to the project represented by drying out the sources.
The seminar called for concentration on awareness, media, and addressing the causes keeping firearms in the hands of the citizens, besides capacity building for the judicial institutions and providing the political and technical support to the project.
The seminar also discussed in its sessions three working papers, the first of which discussed the challenges and achievements regarding firearms collection, while the second presented a proposal of the vision and the roadmap of the national project of firearms collection.
The third discussed the definitions of the regional mechanism of controlling light and small weapons and its aspired role in supporting the national project.
On the other hand, the First Vice President of the Transitional Sovereign Council, 1st Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Daglo has recently chaired the meeting of the high committee of firearms collection and the non-codified vehicles in the presence of a number of ministers, governors of states, and leaders of security institutions.
The committee has taken several decisions on top of which was the continuation and intensifying of the firearms collection campaign through dispatching more forces to the states to follow up the process.
Additionally, there will be the using of modern detecting apparatuses and police dogs to seize the unlicensed firearms, along with asking for assistance from foreign parties to present Sudan’s experience in firearms collection before the African Union and other states around the globe to attract technical and financial support in this regard.
We fully support the reactivation of the firearms collection campaign, urging the transitional government to start from what the ousted regime had ended in this regard, considering that the campaign has its positive impact in reducing the tribal clashes to the minimum.
It is a good omen that the firearms collection campaign high committee is led by the 1st Vice President of the Sovereign Council, 1st Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, a matter that indicates the seriousness of the government to illuminate the phenomenon, hence bringing about control in all conflict zones.
It is high time to launch the forcible arms collection besides applying very strict measures to prevent the possession of firearms or ammunition except by the regular forces.
We urge the high committee to work out a plan to strengthen the disarmament campaign aiming at eliminating illegal weapons, especially in the conflict-affected areas, particularly the Darfur states.
Spread of Illegal Firearms Destabilizes Security
The widespread of firearms in the hands of individuals is one of the most pervasive problems facing the transitional government, and one which it has been struggling to reverse since its formation.
Although remoteness and insecurity have meant that extensive research into the exact number of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in circulation in Sudan is not a possible assessment due to the alarming prevalence of illicit arms.
Widespread acts of armed violence and accidents have resulted in the killing and maiming of civilians, including women and children.
In addition, increased incidents of armed cattle raiding have been a cause of instability throughout the Darfur region.
This has been fuelled by the unchecked proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the hands of unauthorized individuals.
The incidents involved acts of banditry, accidental explosions and shootings, communal violence, and cattle rustling.
These incidents resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries as well as the destruction of property.
As mentioned, several attempts to disarm civilians have been unsuccessful and have increased insecurity. The lack of a consistent country-wide approach to disarmament has meant that communities who have been disarmed are vulnerable to attack from their neighbors, who are not.
The RSF Attempts
The Rapid Support Forces have dispatched two battalions to Darfur within endeavors to achieve stability in the region. The two battalions are the Peace Shield and the Desert Shield.
Those dispatched troops contributed to some extent in supporting the firearms collection campaign as the daily reports from the region show that the Peace Shield troops are doing well through seizing illegal firearms and non-codified motorbikes.
The success of the firearms collection campaign will lead to expediting the repatriation of the IDPs to their home villages to resume their normal lives; they still however fear the existence of firearms in the hands of certain ethnic groups.
The UNAMID exit should lead to rapid steps to cover the security vacuum besides the continuation of the firearms collection campaign.