Procurement: August 17, 2003

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The fight against terrorism in Africa is not limited to military forces, but by necessity includes law enforcement agencies. The regions' porous borders generally allow people and goods to move around under the radar of law enforcement.

After the first Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Conference on cattle rustling and illegal arms in Kampala, the leadership decided to train a regional force to combat cattle rustling, as well as handle arms trafficking and investigations. Police chiefs from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Seychelles, the Ivory Coast and South Africa agreed to curb arms trafficking by strengthening border controls and emplacing monitoring systems. Joint cross-border operations will also be mounted, so that stolen animals can be identified.

The Kenyan director of police operations noted that illegal weapons found their way to Kenya from Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. The Tanzanian representative blamed arms trafficking on unrest in Burundi and Rwanda. Interpol even has an Eastern Africa Sub Regional Bureau that helps local police combat crime in the region. 

Firearms are common in many of the cultures, like the Pokot living close to the Kenya-Uganda border. The vicious Karamojong are a constant threat, Pokot tribesmen need their own AK-47 and other small arms for protection. When cattle rustling gets out of control, the tribesmen pick up their weapons and try to even out the score. This turns parts of the countryside into potential battlegrounds, which is generally bad for legal business (whether agriculture or tourism). Such places also become a breeding ground and hiding place for terrorists.

However, UN-inspired efforts to drain small arms from the region have been less than successful. While there have been several pyres of weapons destroyed by Kenyan police earlier in the summer, these arms must have been taken from those who surrendered them easily. The real bad guys still have their AKs and are still causing trouble with them. - Adam Geibel

 


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