Global Policy Forum

Weapons Turned Into Ploughshares

Afrol News
May 15, 2001

Close to 10,000 weapons recovered from warring parties in Sierra Leone will be destroyed and recycled at various locations around the country in a process that began yesterday in Freetown, according to the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). The weapons have been collected through the National Commission on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (NCDDR) in a national effort to disarm all fighting units in the country, except the army.

Roughly 450 weapons will be cut into pieces with machine-powered tools each day and converted into an estimated 4,000 productive tools - hoes, sickles, cutlasses, shovels, axes and other garden implements - with the participation of ex-combatants, UNAMSIL said. The weapons destruction is a major symbolic move by the UN to demonstrate that there is a peace process in the country. The numbers of weapons recovered however represent an unsignificant percentage of the waste amount of weapons circulating in the war-torn country.

The weapons destruction is being undertaken with the aid of a German technical aid agency, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), and MAPCO. Former fighters, retrained by GTZ and MAPCO for civilian occupations, will participate in the work, according to UNAMSIL.

The tools will then be distributed to former soldiers within the disarmament programme's reintegration schemes, UNAMSIL reported. Some 500 former fighters have been demobilized by the programme so far. Most of them were members of the Civil Defence Forces. Some are from the Sierra Leone Border Guards, the Special Task Force, and vigilantes attached to the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Only about 40 RUF fighters have been discharged.

The destruction process will continue through 18 June in Lungi, Moyamba, Bo, Kenema, Daru, Mile 91 and Port Loko, with approximately 450 weapons destroyed per day. UNAMSIL is supervising the project at each location. The National Commission for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (NCDDR) is currently also involved in todays meeting between the UNAMSIL, Government and RUF, which will "develop modalities and a firm timetable for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration," as it was decided by the recent meeting in Abuja.

More Information on Sierra Leone and Liberia
More Information on Small Arms and Light Weapons


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.