THE United Nations says huge volumes of firearms are being trafficked into the Southern African Development Community region with Angola and Botswana being among countries that are most affected by the illegal arms trade.
The report, by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), comes at a time Zimbabwean security forces have launched an investigation into an alleged proliferation of illegal firearms in the country.
The report, titled Global Study on Firearms Trafficking, was released during the virtual UN General Assembly summit.
A total of 12 000 illicit firearms were seized in Angola this year alone, while 1 000 were confiscated in Botswana, making the two countries the worst affected.
Angola is also the most affected African country.
However, the UNODC warns this might not be a true reflection of the situation because of under-reporting and lack of capacity to intercept the arms in other countries.
Apart from the two, no other southern African country appears on a nine-member list featuring prominently countries in the strife-torn East and West African regions.
Kenya is the second most affected African country after Angola.
“The seized firearms include pistols and sub-machine guns,” the report read.
“In Africa, the largest quantities of seized weapons were registered in Angola and Kenya. Aside from the prevalence of shotguns generally, notable proportions of machine guns were seized in Tunisia and of sub-machine guns in Burundi.
“In the Central African Republic, aside from miscellaneous weapons such as grenades, artisanal weapons and cannons, the remaining seized weapons were predominantly rifles and sub-machine guns.
“However, many countries in Africa appear to have a lower capacity to intercept and report trafficked firearms, which may lead to under-reporting 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 noted that the majority of weapons were sourced from the United States and were used in violent crimes and conflicts on the continent, while some of the deadly weapons would be intercepted while in transit to other destinations.
“Northern America is the principal sub-region of departure for seized firearms, according to the available data. Trafficking by land remains the most common type of cross-border cases, accounting for roughly two-thirds of the total. Interceptions from vessels accounted for only around six percent of all customs cases, but 33% of the total number of firearms seized by customs.”
The report said conflict-ridden DRC was a major destination of European-made firearms.
“Shotguns were most conspicuous in African countries in addition, a high proportion of shotguns was registered in Greece, driven by a single seizure of
6 404 shotguns intended for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Moreover, high proportions of high-powered arms could also be observed, albeit in a sporadic fashion, in some African countries, such as rifles in Angola, Botswana, Kenya and Libya and machine guns in Tunisia.”