the government of Djibouti has furnished arms and medicines to the Islamic Court
Union, an opposition group.
Darfur has been for years under UN embargo but arms have been provided by the
Many countries buy arms mentioning they are for their own use, but later on they
are directed to a third country under embargo. Chad, Burkina Faso and Guinea have
done that in different occasions.
As of 1 October 2010, three francophone States of sub-Saharan Africa are under
partial or total arms transfers sanctions imposed by regional or international
organizations: Ivory Coast, DR Congo (UN) and Guinea (Economic Community African
and Western European Union).
Arms traffickers on other continents fly or ship weapons illicitly into Africa. Most of
the illicit small arms used in Africa originate from China, Israel, and more than 20
OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) members. The
clandestine nature of this trade makes it impossible to know its real value, but it is
obvious that in Africa the illicit trade in small arms is counter-developmental on
Governments and armed groups in neighbouring or further states are also significant
sources of illicit small arms. These governments, e.g. the case of Morocoo, Algeria
and Libya that
bought arms that are likely aimed at
providing material support to one or
more of the parties to the conflict, in neighbouring countries by transferring illicitly
large numbers of small arms. Since 2000, UN investigators have documented
weapons transfers by neighboring governments to armed groups in Somalia,
Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Sudan, all of which were
under UN arms embargoes at the time of the transfers.
Rebels and other armed groups are another major source of illicit small arms. Cross-
border arms trafficking by members of armed groups is also common. Rebels often
cross the poorly secured borders to smuggled weapons and trade them for food,
vehicles and other consumer goods. According to UN investigators, Somali militias
regularly buy arms from and sell arms to each other on the local black market.
There are other ways in which illegal arms enter the market. Small arms are seized or
stolen from government forces, looted from state armouries, purchased from
corrupt soldiers and stolen from private owners. Similarly, peacekeepers are
occasionally relieved of (or voluntarily part with) their small arms, which often end
up in rebel arsenals.
As national governments tightly monitor and regulate their African manufacturers,
very limited numbers of African-manufactured arms and ammunition enter the
The unauthorized craft production of firearms by local gunsmiths is a significant
source of illicit small arms in some areas. Their profusion constitute a major problem
in some countries. A recent study of craft production in Ghana by Emmanuel Kwesi
Aning found that the country’s unlicensed gunsmiths (more than 400, each capable
AEFJN Arms export and transfers from Sub-Saharan Africa to Sub-Saharan Africa 7/11
of making up to 80 guns per year) have the collective capacity to produce up to
200,000 firearms a year, some of which are reportedly “of a quality comparable with
industrially produced guns”.
On a small scale, weapons are brought in to different countries by soldiers who have
served in peacekeeping missions, for example in Liberia or Sierra Leone, and who
often return home with their weapons to sell them on to combatants and gun
Transfers from African countries to other African countries
Table 1.2: Arms Exports and Transfers: Africa to Africa
Intra-Continental Arms Exports and Transfers
Libya is known to send arms to Sudan, to both the government
through official sales and to various rebel groups in embargoed areas.
In 2008, Libya sold one transport aircraft, ammunition for tanks, and
an unspecified amount of rockets for combat helicopter use to Chad.
Although these sales are legitimate, Chad and Libya both are known to
divert officially imported arms to embargoed and conflict zones such
as Darfur and Eastern Chad, respectively. (see Table 1.3 below)
Although there is not much information, there are reports that Sudan
has exported weapons to Algeria.
Reportedly, Burundi receives shipments of light weapons from
In 2008 the well-known case of the ship docked in Durban, South
Africa ready to offload arms shipped from China to Zimbabwe at a time
when political violence in the country had reached unprecedented
levels. Human rights activists fearing the arms would be used against
civilians seen as enemies of the State, worked tirelessly to ensure the
arms would not find their way into Zimbabwe. A South African judge
ruled that the cargo of rocket-propelled grenades, mortar rounds and
ammunition could not be transported overland.
Since 1995, the ZDI has begun to play the role of an arms broker for
regional purchasers and international arms dealers. The ZDI has sold
surplus G3 guns and ammunition from the Zimbabwean Defence
Forces to some United States collectors. Botswana has bought large
quantities of ammunition and has ordered some military vehicles
through the ZDI. There have been reports of various Chinese, Israeli
and French weapons being sold to Angola, Uganda and the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, the deals being brokered by the ZDI. The ZDI
hopes that the role of arms broker could well be the answer to their
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hopes of breaking into the international arms market. A recent report
suggests that the ZDI supplied arms, ammunition, uniforms and other
military suppliers to Kabila's forces during and after their war to
It is also alleged that the ZDI has acted as a broker
for arms supplied by countries such as the United States of America
and South Africa.
A report by Amnesty International (AI) 2010 suggest that unregulated arms supplies
to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Somalia have found their way into
the hands of the militant Islamist fighters Al Shabaab. The report accuses Uganda,
Ethiopia and Yemen of supplying the TFG-outside of the UN regulatory regime which
imposed an arms embargo on Somalia. The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia has
reported that since 2006 TFG forces have received arms and ammunition from the
three neighbouring states having applied for exemptions to the UN arms embargo.
The problem is that arms supplied are not properly accounted for by the TFG which
facilitates major diversions of arms or money for arms. TFG lacks the capacity to
prevent the diversion of substantial quantities of its own weaponry and military
equipment to other armed groups and to Somalia’s domestic arms markets.
AI is calling for all countries to suspend arms transfers and financial assistance until
adequate safeguards are in place to ensure the weapons will not be used by TFG
forces to commit human right violations, or diverted to other armed groups and
potentially used against civilians, African Union peacekeepers or TFG forces
Arms Transfers to Non-State Actors
Table 1.3: Arms Transfers to Non-State Actors
Arms transfers to rebel groups and other non-state actors
ONLF rebels: get training and arms from Eritrea, Somalia,
and Sudan(get weapons flows from arms left over from
Sudanese civil war)
With the rise of ethnic violence in the South and the specter
of renewed civil war with the North, the SPLA is able to
funnel weapons in from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, and
Justice and Equality
These Darfuri rebel receive SALW from Chad, Eritrea, and
the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya group, all of whom are in breach
of the UN arms embargo against the Darfur region of
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The LRA only uses SALW in its protracted campaign against
the Ugandan government. These weapons are obtained
from Kenya and Sudan.
Illegal arms are brought into Kenya through its porous
borders with its various Horn and Great Lakes neighbors:
Uganda, (Southern) Sudan, (South) Ethiopia, and Somalia.
Somali rival factions
Somalia had a weapons embargo put in place by the
international community in 1992, and although this
embargo is still in effect, Somali rival factions consistently
obtain weapons from Ethiopia, Libya, Sudan, Egypt,
Djibouti, Uganda, and Eritrea.
Nigeria, the e Niger
Nigeria has porous borders on both its land and sea edges,
allowing gun smuggling from a variety of countries. Many
of these weapons come from war-torn countries in Africa.
Many of the arms smuggling rings operate out of
Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria. The smugglers
use speed-boats to connect to the high seas, and then ferry
the arms back to shore.
Most of the weapons—such as the Russian AK-47, the
German G-3, the Belgian FN-FAL, Czech machine guns and
Serbian rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs)—are supplied
by illegal dealers and sellers, who are paid through the
proceeds of bunkered (stolen) oil. In October 2006 Chris
Ndudi Njoku, a Nigerian businessman, specialized in
importing prohibited firearms into Nigeria, was arrested in
possession of G-3s, AK-47s and Beretta automatic rifles.
European dealers are also involved in the trade with their
Arms to Embargoed Territories
Table 1.4: Arms to Embargoed Territories
Countries that send arms to embargoed territories
In 2007, Nigeria sent 50 pistols and revolvers to Liberia. There is also
evidence that arms have been illegally smuggled over the years from
Nigeria into Benin, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.
Rwanda has been funnelling weapons in to the Democratic Republic of
Congo, in flagrant violation to the existing embargo.
Liberia has been known to transfer arms to Sierra Leone during its
AEFJN Arms export and transfers from Sub-Saharan Africa to Sub-Saharan Africa
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested