PRIO Network

Sudan - Small Arms Survey in Darfur And Investigation of the Child Soldier

This report was commissioned by NISAT partner Norwegian Church Aid, and was carried out by CHARM. 

The full document is available for download in Microsoft Word format here.


Executive Summary

Darfur by its geographical boundaries to Libya, Chad, CAR and southern Sudan lies in an area amenable to small arms proliferation. The long history of tribal conflicts has streamlined the flow of the arms to the region. The degradation of the environment, the competition over the natural resources, the underdevelopment, the political instability, the poor governance, the drugs trafficking and the instability of the region have all compounded the situation. These resulted in high crime rate, violence, populations displacement and increased number of street children.

Over the last seven years, the police forces have collected 9441 pieces of illicit small arms from a total projected number of 132,174! Thirteen types of illicit small arms are already identified by the police authority. The police records over the same period have registered 856 incidents of armed robberies, 736 incidents of busted drugs trafficking and 972 lives lost in armed tribal conflicts (34% of whom were women and children). Twelve (12) large scale tribal conflicts with loss of lives had occurred in the same period. The total number of crimes registered for the same period in the police records were 197,568 – 51.49% in which small arms were used. The total number of convicts was 119,743 – 48.9%  of whom had used small arms. 4,757 children have been convicted in crimes using small arms. The police records did not register child soldiers! All officials interviewed denied recruitment of children in the army, but the age scrutiny of the paramilitary recruits is left for the tribal leaders.

All the participants in the survey believe that small arms proliferation has negative social, economic and environmental implications.

No economic or social compensation is provided for the small arms victims. This explains why Darfur is having the highest number of street children – next to Khartoum – in Sudan.

Nearly 50% of Darfur population have good to moderate information about small arms, this is in contradistinction to 85% who did not use small arms while 70% think there is no need altogether.

72% of the participants in the survey believe if they have to use small arms, it is for self-protection, 20% for social reasons and 8% as a hobby. More than 90% believe if they have to possess small arms, it only comes after securing basic needs. 80% believe there are no working bylaws for the control, monitoring or licensing of the small arms. Small arms are proliferating in the rural areas and are used mainly by pastoralists.

Children believe that the religious beliefs, local culture, the tribal commitments and the government encourage the possession and use of the small arms. Use of small arms is primarily a male business. It is considered by the community shameful for a man not being able to use small arms on necessity. All children suggest employment programs, socio-economic development and delivery of basic services are a remedy to the problem in addition to the small arms collection and enforcement of the law. 70% of the children suggested education as the first priority response. All children screened (100%) have moderate knowledge while 70% have good knowledge about the small arms. 35% of the children in the rural areas either used or know how to use small arms in contradistinction to 10% in urban areas. Small arms proliferation is negatively impacting the community either directly or indirectly. It becomes apparent that the problem is complex and needs a multi-actors, multifaceted approaches. The mostly affected groups in the society are the children and a peace building initiative is the priority issue.



May/2001 - NISAT