Harare – Angola and Botswana are among countries most affected by the illegal arms trade in Africa, a new report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says.
The Global Study on Firearms Trafficking was released this week at the 75th UN General Assembly, and it says most of the smuggled arms originate from the United States.
Around 12,000 illicit firearms were seized in Angola this year alone, while the figure for Botswana was in the region of 1,000.
Angola is the most affected African country on a continent whose situation is generally not as dire as other regions though the UNODC warns that this may be due to under-reporting of the scale of the problem.
Apart from Angola and Botswana, no other Southern African country appears on a nine-country list that is dominated by East and West African states.
Kenya is the second most affected African country.
“The seized firearms include pistols and submachine guns,” the UNODC report reads. “In Africa, the largest quantities of seized weapons seized were registered in Angola and Kenya. Aside from the prevalence of shotguns generally, notable proportions of machine guns were seized in Tunisia and of submachine guns in Burundi.
“In Central African Republic, aside from miscellaneous weapons such as grenades, artisanal weapons and cannons, the remaining seized weapons were predominantly rifles and submachine guns. However, many countries in Africa appear to have a lower capacity to intercept and report trafficked firearms, which may lead to underreporting of some types of firearms.
“Moreover, the total figures reported by countries include seizures which are not directly connected to trafficking. Based on customs seizures at borders, rifles emerge at par with pistols. This suggests that firearms such as rifles may play a bigger role in global trafficking pat-terns than what is reflected in the currently available data.”
The report said the majority of the weapons came from the US and were used in violent crimes and conflicts. Some of the weapons were intercepted en route to other destinations.
“Northern America is the principal sub-region of departure for seized firearms, according to the available data,” the report says.
Most of the firearms are trafficked via maritime routes.
“Trafficking by land remains the most common type of cross-border case, accounting for roughly two-thirds of the total. Interceptions from vessels accounted for only around 6 per cent of all customs cases, but 33 per cent of the total number of firearms seized by customs.”