Surrender illegal guns in amnesty, Garissa residents told

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The government has called on Garissa residents to surrender illegal firearms before an amnesty expires in two weeks

County commissioner Meru Mwangi said on Tuesday that no charges will be preferred against those who surrender the illegal arms within the amnesty period, by the end of September.

He was speaking at a Garissa hotel during a sensitisation workshop for peace committees, the clergy, elders, opinion leaders and youth.

The African Union has declared every September since 2017 a month of amnesty to surrender illegal weapons.

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“I urge Garissa residents, especially those in conflict zones where we believe there are illegal guns, to take advantage of the remaining two weeks to turn them in,” Mwangi said.

“We know the dangers of guns in the wrong hand. The government is the sole authority in providing security,” he said.

Mwangi said the county has made great progress in security, which he attributed to the good working relationship among leaders, citizens and government agencies.AMNESTY: Charles Munyalu from the Kenya National Focal Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons urges residents to turn in illegal weapons before national amnesty ends in two weeks. He addressed reporters on Tuesday, September 22.
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

The county commissioner praised peace committees for “a job well done” in the seven subcounties of Hulugho, Fafi, Lagdera, Dadaab, Balambala, Ijara and Garissa.

“The committees have helped us in quelling conflicts that could have escalated into bloody conflicts. Our close working relationship continues to pay dividends,” Mwangi said.

Charles Munyalu, an official from the Kenya National Focal Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons (KNFP), said the African Union wanted all guns to fall silent this year.

“We are yet to achieve this objective, however, we are out to ensure citizens are aware of that objective and fully cooperate to ensure it succeeds,” he said.

Garissa Peace Committee secretary Hassan Osman Shurie called on residents to continue working closely with security agencies.

He praised “peace actors” trying to build peace and resolve conflicts for the past year.

“While the world celebrates International Peace Day [on Monday], I call upon security organs and communities to enhance coordination and build trust to respond to incidents of insecurity through rapid response,” Shurie said.

“Let both the leadership and the community elders combine efforts and engage their communities to foster unity in the war against illegal firearms,” he said.

The annual State of National Security Report estimated 580,000 to 650,000 illegal firearms are circulating in the country, perpetuating conflicts and posing socio-economic, political and security risks.

Conflicts in neighbouring countries and well as weak controls on international transfer of arms have caused the proliferation of illegal weapons in Kenya.

Illegal firearms are mostly kept by  pastoralist communities in North Rift, Northeastern and Upper Eastern.

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