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Small Arms Trafficking Continues to Decrease Stability in Central Africa

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Ricci Shryock

Trafficking in small arms and light weapons is on the rise in parts of Central Africa, say regional sources from the International Action Network against Light Weapons. Members of the group say this proliferation poses an increased threat to stability in the area.

Regional experts who work to combat arms trafficking recently met in Gabon to discuss the increasing threat posed by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Central Africa.

Based in Central African Republic, Christine Marie-Simon Abdoul is a member of the International Action Network against Light Weapons. She says CAR is one country that is a victim of arms trafficking, which causes suffering and the displacement of residents.

She added that groups such as the Lord's Resistance Army now operate almost freely in the region and forcefully recruit new members.

Nono Booto'o Mouthe, also a member of the network, said the unwavering circulation of arms in Central Africa does not mean they are fighting a lost cause. She cites a case in 2008 when the group successfully lobbied for countries to prohibit a ship carrying arms to Zimbabwe from using their territorial waters.

Earlier this year, an agreement known as the Kinshasa Convention was drafted by the U.N. Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament in Africa.

The convention, which is scheduled to be signed in November by the U.N. Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament in Africa, authorizes certain arms transfers among countries, but it subjects them to strict control. It would also prohibit the possession of light weapons by civilians.

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