Refugees and the Proliferation of Illegal Small Arms and Light Weapons in Kenya
Mogire, Edward O.
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The devastation brought by the worldwide trafficking and proliferation of small arms and light weapons--man-portable weapons like assault rifles, mortars, and grenades--has overtaken land mines as the major problem facing governments and other interested groups in the non-governmental world and academia. Regional organisations in Europe, Latin America, and Africa as well as the UN (including, increasingly the Security Council) have taken up some aspect of small arms control. A major aspect in the discourse of small arms relates to the illicit or illegal arms trafficking, by which is usually (but not always) meant stocks of weapons already in circulation outside of government control. Increasingly, new stocks of small arms from various sources including government transfers (both overt and covert) as well as grey and black markets, are finding their way to African conflict theatres and they eventually reach illegal markets. For Kenya, the major problem issue with small arms relates to the trafficking and proliferation of illegal arms into the country. Although researchers and policy makers alike acknowledge that one way in which refugees threaten security is through the trafficking of illegal arms, little research has been done in this area. It is common practice in Kenya particularly among politicians and government officials, to attribute illegal weapons in the country to the presence of refugees: This paper aims at contributing to the small arms discourse by analysing the role of refugees as an external factor in the trafficking and cross border movement of illegal arms into the country. This analysis also contributes to the new scholarship in refugee studies which now considers refugees not only as victims (humanitarian issues) but also as capable of causing conflict and insecurity.