Kosovo Marks International Gun Destruction Day – Destroys over 700 Small Arms

09 Jul 2014

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9 July is International Gun Destruction Day - a day to remind the world about the threat the excess, poorly secured, and illegal weapons pose to our everyday safety and security.

To mark this day, Kosovo Police, with the support of the European Union and UNDP/South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC), destroyed 776 small arms and 1363 spare parts in the furnace of Metal Holding in Ferizaj/Uroševac. In this way Kosovo took part in a coordinated, regional effort to raise awareness about the problem of illicit small arms proliferation in the Western Balkans.

The spread of small arms and light weapons continues to affect the security of the Western Balkans. To curb the proliferation of illicit SALW, the UNDP/SEESAC has been working to support stakeholders at all levels in the region since 2002. As part of this effort, SEESAC has coordinated a region-wide small arms destruction event on 9 July 2014, with partners in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

By organizing parallel destruction events, together, they will help the region shed a substantial number of small arms in one day, strengthening safety and security at home as well as abroad.

Funds for today’s destruction were provided by the European Union through the Council Decision 2013/730/CFSP, dated 9 December 2013, in Support of SEESAC Disarmament and Arms Control Activities in South East Europe in the framework of the EU Strategy to Combat the Illicit Accumulation and Trafficking of SALW and their Ammunition.

The event was opened by the Minister of Internal Affairs of Kosovo - Mr. Bajram Rexhepi, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative - Ms. Steliana Nedera, Head of Cooperation of the EU Office in Kosovo - Mr. Christof Stock, and Deputy General Director of the Kosovo Police, Mr. Naim Rexha.

“The destruction of illicit and surplus SALW constitutes an important element of Kosovo’s comprehensive Small Arms and Light Weapons Control Programme,” explained Mr. Bajram Rexhepi.  “It is an effective method of reducing both the actual number, as well as the supply of weapons on and to the illicit market. In contrast to other methods of disposal such as sale or gift, destruction ensures that SALW will not find their way (back) into the illicit market and can thus build confidence in overall efforts to prevent, combat, and eradicate their unlawful trade of SALW among the people of Kosovo.”, Mr. Rexhepi continued.

“We are very proud that Kosovo is joining this regional effort and are similarly thankful for the European Union’s support in helping them do so”, said Ms. Steliana Nedera, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative.

“The illicit proliferation of weapons goes beyond borders. It is a regional problem, which is why a coordinated, regional effort such as this taking place across the Western Balkans today is not only beneficial, but crucial.” explained Mr. Stock.

The 9 July destruction is an activity implemented within the framework of Kosovo Arms Control Strategy and Action Plan, by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and is supported by the UNDP - Kosovo Small Arms Control (KOSSAC) project.

The weapons destroyed today by the Kosovo Police, have been confiscated during their crime investigation work.