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AOAV assesses the incidence of SALW trafficking between Burundi and the DRC

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United Nations Map – East-Central DRC, http://www.un.org/Depts/Cartographic/map/profile/eastdrc.pdf

The Great Lakes region of Africa has, in recent times, been afflicted by staggering levels of violence.  Much of the violence has been perpetrated using small arms and light weapons (SALW), by far the weapons that cause the most harm globally, and which still cause great suffering in the region today.  Part of the problem is that, despite national, regional and international legislation controlling the possession, use and trade in SALW, international borders in the region are porous and the weapons by their very nature are easy to conceal, transport and pass to others.

Last year, AOAV, in collaboration with the Small Arms Commissions of Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), conducted an assessment along the border of the two countries, examining the incidence of SALW trafficking.  The assessment uncovered the level of trafficking across the border as well as the nature of the trafficking – the who, what, when, where, and how.  The subsequent report of this assessment lays out recommendations to combat the trafficking of illicit weapons, recommendations that have been used to draft a Joint Action Plan between the two countries.

Read the full report in French and English:

AOAV DRC-Burundi Border Assessment Report FINAL_fr

AOAV DRC-Burundi Border Assessment Report FINAL_en

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This report is about the trends in the cross-border trafficking of small arms and light weapons (SALW) along the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Burundi. The assessment took place along the River Rusizi/Ruzizi[1] and Lake Tanganyika, the two main geographic features that demarcate the border between the two countries.

The assessment established that there was rampant trafficking of SALW and ammunition across the border. The main conclusions of the assessment were:

  1. There are many more unofficial (unmonitored) border points than official (monitored) ones. At the time of the assessment, between 80% and 90% of the crossing points assessed had no security monitoring, which denotes the porosity of the border between the two States.
  1. Young men are the group most commonly involved in arms trafficking, and especially ex-combatants.
  1. The trafficking is most intensive during the closure of the hydroelectric dams located on the Rusizi/Ruzizi; during market days when people cross the border to trade; and at night time, between 23h00 and 04h00.
  1. The arms and ammunition are often concealed in sacks containing raw material for the manufacture of Kanyanga[2], in the luggage of people swimming across the Rusizi/Ruzizi, or on the bellies of canoes.
  1. Assault rifles, especially AK-47s, are the main type of weapons trafficked.
  1. Trafficking is more prevalent across the Rusizi/Ruzizi River than Lake Tanganyika.
  1. Trafficking is facilitated by the lack of capacity among official border personnel to intercept illicit trade and police the border. There is a lack of adequate border management skills among border officials, a lack of appropriate detection equipment, weak cross-border information exchange and a tendency towards corruption by the low-paid border staff.
  1. The high prevalence of land conflicts and armed groups in the border region fuel the demand for SALW, as does poverty which forces people to seek incomes from highly profitable but risky alternative livelihoods.

This assessment report gives recommendations to combat the trafficking of SALW between Burundi and the DRC which has formed the basis of a bilateral action plan agreed by the two countries.

[1] In DRC the river is called Ruzizi, while in Burundi it is called Rusizi. Both names are used in this report simultaneously.

[2] Kanyanga refers to an alcoholic brew commonly made and consumed locally not only in Burundi and DRC, but in the entire Great Lakes region. Sometimes it has different names in different countries/communities.

Read the full report in French and English:

AOAV DRC-Burundi Border Assessment Report FINAL_fr

AOAV DRC-Burundi Border Assessment Report FINAL_en