Striving for a Safer, Weapon's Free EnvironmentJul 9, 2015
“I feel like a burden to my family, to society, and to everyone with whom I come in contact. Most of the time I’m optimistic, but sometimes I wish the bullet had ended my life.”
This is the reality for Mr. Asllan Uka, a 57 year old husband and father of four children, who is just one of many victims of stray bullets. Asllan lives in the village of Bajskë/Banjska, near Vushtrri/Vucitrn. Asllan sat in his wheelchair as he somberly described the event that changed his life forever. The accident happened at a wedding celebration in July 2005, ten years ago. Asllan was waiting in a car while an acquaintance of his was firing celebratory shots outside. Believing that all of the rounds had been fired, the man did not realize that one bullet was left in the weapon. As he was putting the weapon away, a shot was accidentally fired. The bullet went through the headrest of the driver’s seat and into Asllan’s neck. The outcome was debilitating. The bullet hit his T4 vertebra, paralyzing him from the chest down. The rehabilitation process was long and challenging. His youngest son, aged 15, cannot remember a time when his father could walk. Asllan is currently unemployed and only receives €75 assistance each month. Asllan’s story serves as a reminder of the dangers of inadequately secured, surplus and illicit weapons.
In light of the International Small Arms Destruction Day, Kosovo destroyed over 1,700 small arms and light weapons (SALW) with support from the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Firearms and Explosives Risk Minimization (FERM) project. The objective was to raise awareness of the dangers of surplus, illegal and insufficiently secured weapons, and to increase the security and safety of people living in Kosovo.
The destruction was organized by the Kosovo Police and took place at Shkritorija, Janjevo. The arms that were destroyed were weapons that the police had confiscated during their crime investigation work.
The Minister of Internal Affairs of Kosovo, Mr. Skender Hyseni, and UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Ms. Alessandra Roccasalvo were joined by the Deputy General Director of the Kosovo Police, Naim Rexha and Mr. Asllan Uka on a panel.
This destruction is an important element of Kosovo’s comprehensive Small Arms and Light Weapons Control Programme because it is an effective method of reducing the number of illegal weapons in the market, and reducing the potential supply of such weapons in the future. This 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 illicit trade. It also contributes to decreasing the number of people who will face the similar hardships to Asllan Uka in the future.
The destruction of SALW was supported 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 (EUSAC), in the framework of the EU Strategy to Combat the Illicit Accumulation and Trafficking of SALW and their Ammunition.