As the world observes UN Disarmament Week, this week marked a symbolic milestone in Angola’s National Disarmament Campaign.
Since 2005, a total of 125,000 weapons have now been destroyed in a campaign supported by HALO with funding from the United States Department of State Bureau of Political-Military Affairs and the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.
At the end of three decades of civil war, it was estimated that a third of Angola’s population was armed. Recognising that this was an inherent risk to the country’s security, the Angolan Disarmament Campaign was launched, beginning with an intense public awareness programme aimed at the voluntary surrender of weapons across the country.
HALO has been working with the government of Angola since 2008 to implement the country’s disarmament objectives. HALO has travelled through every province and using specialised shears has cut up thousands of weapons that were handed in by members of the public in response to the government’s media campaign. HALO are currently in Malange province, where 3,376 weapons were destroyed in October alone, bringing the year’s total for the province to 9,265.
The observance of Disarmament Week began in 1978, called for as part of a UN resolution asking for “the abandoning of the use of force in international relations and seeking security in disarmament.” To recognize the significance of Disarmament Week and Angola’s continued work towards this goal, The HALO Angola Weapons and Ammunition Disposal team conducted a weapons cutting event in Ndalatando, the capital of Kwanza Norte province. The event was attended by the Provincial Governor, Jose Maria dos Santos and the National Police Deputy Commander, Comissario Paulo de Almeida and was broadcast on Angolan TV. At the event itself, 263 weapons were destroyed.
HALO are the only non-governmental organization working with the Angolan police and military to safely destroy unwanted weapons and ammunition. Reaching the milestone of 125,000 destroyed weapons is a testament to the hard work and commitment of all the partners in the Angolan campaign and reflective of the spirit of UN Disarmament Week.