FEEDBACK – Training African lobbyists on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas

Posted by: on Oct 30, 2017 | No Comments

Mr Bekele Gonfa and Mr Albino Forquilha attended a workshop organized by Handicap International in early September in Geneva to form a network of African lobbyists on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. They explain the reasons for this new commitment.

Mr Bekele Gonfa

Bekele Gonfa is the director of the Survivors Recovery and Rehabilitation Organization (SRARO), an organization that supports victims of war and all other forms of violence.

“I run an organization in Ethiopia that supports victims of armed violence. Handicap International invited me to this first workshop which seems very important in my fight because the campaign against the bombing of civilians includes an important component of “assistance to the victims”.

My organization shares the same concern for the fate and well-being of victims. I am myself a landmine victim and I hope that, one day, no one will fall victim of this weapon ever again. The consequences are terrible. Banning antipersonnel mines and raising public awareness on this threat has been the battle of my life. Similarly, the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, in current conflicts, has become a major problem. We need to alert and educate the public about this new issue”, he said.

Mr Albino Forquilha

Albino Forquilha is the director of the Mozambican Force for Crime Investigation and Social Reintegration (FOMICRES), an organization that fights against all forms of violence.

He exposes us the reasons for this new commitment:

“My organization is struggling to build and maintain peace in Mozambique, which was plagued by civil war (1977-1992) for about 20 years. Peace was reached in 1992 but the disarmament process for some of the former armed groups is still ongoing. Moreover, in the Horn of Africa, we are facing the terrorist threat, which has no borders. My country is therefore directly concerned by this new threat…

But I would also say that the fight against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas will only be effective if we can rely on an international solidarity of civil society in order to uphold the principles of international humanitarian law and advocate for them towards States. Because of the civil war, Mozambique was severely contaminated with mines and improvised explosive devices. The government has ratified the Ottawa treaty banning anti-personnel mines. And we would also want its representatives to participate in international meetings on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

The training that has taken place these days has allowed me to understand the serious humanitarian problems posed by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, the terrible consequences on the lives of civilians and the impact on the development of the affected countries induced by this practice. I can compare these problems with those that Mozambique experienced during the civil war. People still live, twenty years later, with heavy physical and psychological trauma due to mines and violence.”