Modern Day Slavery – Thoughts and Prayer

As I read in Exodus 21, about God’s directions to the Israelites regarding slaves, I realize that it wasn’t and isn’t God who instituted slavery but rather, it is a fruit of the kingdom of darkness. This fruit has plagued humanity for millenia and is particularly evil! As a matter of fact, despite the general abolition of slavery a century ago, this practice has continued covertly, unhindered!

My study into present human trafficking statistics, published on this website,  (https://worldwiderefugeeprayernetwork.com/2015/05/13/the-curse-of-people-smuggling-2/  reveals that it is at present one of the most lucrative trades in the world! I quote from my study, for those who want the facts, without having to look up the whole report (very worthwhile reading!):

“The value of the black market in human smuggling was estimated to be worth $35 Billion a year (conservative estimate, my comment), according to the IOM.”
Source: “It’s Time to Take Action and Save Lives of Migrants Caught in Crisis,” International Organization for Migration, Press Release, December 17, 2013.

My additionSome comparisons; “Human trafficking creates approximately $150 billion in illegal revenue annually” Taken from ENDcrowd website. This compares favourably with  … “the arms trade has been approaching US$100 billion annually.
[Source: Solutions, “The Arms Trade Treaty: Building a Path to Disarmament”, 2013]”

On the other hand, Microsoft’s income in the US is said to have been 22.07 Billion US$ (Statistica Website) and 76.4 Billion (untaxed) US$ in foreign earnings (Reuters 2015, quoted in Wikipedia).

Although a while ago since publishing my article and since the publication of these figures, they certainly would not have decreased, on the contrary! With refugee figures  constantly increasing, there is a lucrative connection between people smuggling and people trafficking, and these vulnerable people often end up being trafficked, against their will!

PRAYER:

Jesus’ words in John 10:10 (“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full…”) and John 8:36 (“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”) require to be prayed over this people group worldwide!

Let us pray for all those who have been forcefully enslaved; that they would come to know Jesus and that He would set them free! Amen.

Advertisements

Some Principles of Intercession by Pia

This morning, in my study time with the Lord, looking for another scripture, I “accidentally” came across a tremendous scripture to do with our prayer topic (refugees) and the root problem; wars on the earth, whether small or large. The scripture is found in Psalm 46:9

“He makes wars cease to the end of the earth

He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;

He burns the chariot of fire.”

Knowing this, we have a promise given by God about Himself. If we are willing to use this in an unrelenting way (may God give us perseverance!), in prayer and petition, we have the confidence that we are praying according to His will and therefore have that petition. Of course, just like the widow and the judge (Luke 18:1-8), Daniel (Daniel 10:12) and many others; perseverance is of the essence. I don’t know why that is; in my simplistic mind I seem to think that asking Him once and then just thanking Him will “do the job”. I think that we have to let the Spirit guide us when it is time to move from intercession to thanksgiving alone. Our independent selves are tempted to be guided mainly by our own understanding. It would seem simpler that way but the fruit will be missing (“for without Me you can do nothing” John 15:5). He wants “fruit that will last”.

God Himself said of those interceding about Jerusalem, “give Him no rest until He establishes Jerusalem..” Is. 62:7. This is the same principle at work in any issue of intercession.

Another, seemingly obvious one is the issue of a pure heart before God; “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” Ps 66:18. The reward is well worth it: the assurance of answered prayer and lasting peace!

Here is another article on intercession I found useful:

The Prayer of Intercession  By Gordon Robertson, CEO, Christian Broadcasting Network

Welcome to the third in our series on how to get answers to prayer. We want you to have the direct experience of knowing that God is both hearing your prayers and He is sending answers.

The third lesson has to do with how we know that God is answering. Well, the Apostle John gives us that answer in 1 John 5:14-15: “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

So, here is a tremendous key. If we are praying in accordance with God’s will, then we have the confidence that He is hearing us. We also have the confidence that if we know that He is hearing us, we know that we have the answer to what we are praying for.

How do we know if we are praying in accordance to God’s will? One of the prime ways is to study the prayers that are recorded in the Bible. If we pray in accordance with those prayers, then automatically we know that we are praying in accordance with God’s will. If we are praying any particular promise of God, then we know that we are praying in accordance with His will. One of the great promises is from Jeremiah: Ask of Me, call to Me, and I will show you great and mighty things. So, if you are praying, ‘Lord, I am praying in accordance with Your promise,’ then you know you are praying in accordance with His will and you know that you have the thing that you are requesting.

Now, some things come up in our lives where we don’t know, where there isn’t a particular promise in the Bible that we can rely on. What do we do then? We have the Comforter, and that is the Holy Spirit.

 Here is what the Apostle Paul wrote: “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26

What a tremendous promise that the Spirit Himself is making intercession for us. This is what happens when we get into what I call intercessory prayer, where, literally, we get such a burden of prayer that there are groanings within us. Usually, we are on our knees, crying out to God because of that tremendous burden of prayer. If you haven’t yet experienced that in your prayer life, please pray for it, please ask for it, please seek for this. It is a tremendous thing that happens when the Spirit literally overtakes you and fills you with such a burden of prayer that groanings literally come out of you as you are laboring and travailing in prayer. This kind of prayer is a supernatural kind of prayer.

I have experienced it when I have prayed for nations, when I have prayed for people groups, and there wasn’t a particular promise in the Bible for that particular nation but there was the general promise, ask of Me and I will give you the nations as your inheritance. When I began to pray that over particular nations, over particular people groups, then a tremendous burden of love and compassion and travailing prayer for that people group came over me. I started praying for laborers to go into that particular people group in accordance with Jesus’ admission to pray to the Lord of the harvest for laborers to go into His harvest.

So, this links it all together, where we have the prayer of intercession, we have the Holy Spirit gifted to us, and the Holy Spirit then guides our prayers.

If you haven’t experienced this, please ask for this because it is a tremendous thing to be interceding in accordance with what the Spirit tells you.

Gordon Robertson became the Chief Executive Officer of CBN on November 30, 2007.  Prior to being named CEO, Gordon was the Executive Producer of The 700 Club for the past six years and a member of the board of directors for the past five years. He is also founder and president of CBN Asia, Inc. and founder and president of the Asian Center for Missions.

Somalia

History

Comprised of a former British protectorate and an Italian colony, Somalia was created in 1960 when the two territories merged. Since then its development has been slow. Relations with neighbours have been soured by its territorial claims on Somali-inhabited areas of Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti.

In 1970 Mr Barre proclaimed a socialist state, paving the way for close relations with the USSR. In 1977, with the help of Soviet arms, Somalia attempted to seize the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, but was defeated thanks to Soviet and Cuban backing for Ethiopia, which had turned Marxist.

In 1991 President Barre was overthrown by opposing clans. But they failed to agree on a replacement and plunged the country into lawlessness and clan warfare.

Years of anarchy followed the downfall of President Barre, and it was not until 2012, when a new internationally-backed government was installed, that the country began to enjoy a measure of stability once more.

The decades of fighting between rival warlords meant that the country was ill-equipped to deal with natural disasters such as drought, and around half a million people died in the Somali famines of 1992 and 2010-12.

Religion:

Somalia is comprised of 99.9% Muslims and only 0.1% of the population are Christians. The country has an entirely Muslim population and in some areas Shari’a law is implemented. Church properties were nationalized and missionaries expelled in the 1970s. Existing churches are permitted by the government so long as they do not evangelize Muslims. All Muslim children, by law have to attend Islam classes in school, even if in private Christian missionary schools.

Challenges for Christians:
Somalia is ranked No. 4 among nations that are the worst persecutors of Christians based on Open Doors 2007 “World Watch List.” On May 11, 2007, Islamist Web sites attributed the kidnapping of two aid workers in Puntland to the aid workers having allegedly used the provision of assistance as a pretext for proselytizing. Similar claims were made against Ethiopians who the Islamists have stated were attempting to Christianise the country as part of their military occupation. On September 17, 2006, Leonella Sgorbati, an Italian nun, was killed at a hospital in Mogadishu by gunmen, hours after a leading Muslim cleric, Sheikh Abukar Hassan, condemned Pope Benedict XVI for his remarks on Islam and violence. Hassan declared, “Whoever offends our Prophet Muhammad should be killed on the spot by the nearest Muslim.”

© 2015 Window International Network, (WIN) is a non-profit organization founded in 1999 to continue the international outreach segment of the Christian Information Network.

Islamist insurgency
…In 2006 …Islamists …gained control of much of the south, including the capital, after their militias kicked out the warlords who had ruled the roost for 15 years.

With the backing of Ethiopian troops, forces loyal to the interim administration seized control from the Islamists at the end of 2006.

Islamist insurgents – including the Al-Shabab group, which later declared allegiance to al-Qaeda and in 2012 announced its merger with the global Islamist terrorist group – fought back against the government and Ethiopian forces, regaining control of most of southern Somalia by late 2008.

Ethiopia pulled its troops out in January 2009. Soon after, Al-Shabab fighters took control of Baidoa, formerly a key stronghold of the transitional government.

Al-Shabab consolidated its position as the most powerful insurgent group by driving its main rival, Hizbul Islam, out of the southern port city of Kismayo in October 2009.

But al-Shabab was wrong-footed by a series of government and African peacekeeper offensives and a Kenyan army incursion in 2011. They withdrew from Mogadishu in August 2011, the port of Baidoa in February, the key town of Afgoye in May and the port of Merca in August, and lost their last urban stronghold – the major southern port of Kismayo – in October 2012, along with the major inland town of Wanla Weyn.

In a sign of growing confidence, Somalia’s first formal parliament in more than 20 years was sworn in at Mogadishu airport, marking an end to the eight-year transitional period.

Parliament chose Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, an academic and civic activist with little political experience, as president in September 2012. He in turn appointed an economist and businessman, Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid, prime minister with a brief to stamp out nepotism and clan rivalry (emphasis mine).

BBC News, Somalia profile – Overview, 21 October 2014

The al-Qaeda affiliate (al-Shabab which launched its deadliest attack on Kenya, which left 148 people dead at Garissa University last week – italics my additions) says it is at war with Kenya, and wants it to withdraw troops sent to Somalia in 2011 to help the weak government in Mogadishu fight the militants.

Kenyan fighter jets have bombed positions of militant Islamist group al-Shabab in neighbouring Somalia, a military spokesman has told the BBC.Many people in Somalia believe the air assault is merely aimed at showing Kenyans that the government is responding to the threat posed by al-Shabab. They point out there was a similar strike after al-Shabab killed 36 quarry workers in Kenya’s north-eastern Mandera region in December. Then, too, there were reports of civilian casualties, while Kenya failed to provide any proof of al-Shabab being hit.

This is in contrast to US air strikes in Somalia, which led to the killing of al-Shabab fighters and leaders.

Islamist militant group al-Shabab is battling the UN-backed government in Somalia, and has carried out a string of attacks in neighbouring Kenya. The group …has been pushed out of most of the main towns it once controlled, but it remains a potent threat.

Who are al-Shabab?
Al-Shabab means The Youth in Arabic.

It emerged as the radical youth wing of Somalia’s now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts, which controlled Mogadishu in 2006, before being forced out by Ethiopian forces.
There are numerous reports of foreign jihadists going to Somalia to help al-Shabab, from neighbouring countries, as well as the US and Europe.

It is banned as a terrorist group by both the US and the UK and is believed to have between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters.

BBC News, 3 April 2015

Foreign intervention in Somalia

1992 – UN troops arrive to monitor ceasefire after fighting which followed fall of Siad Barre. US-led task force delivers aid

1993 – UN mission is dealt a fatal blow when US rangers are killed in incident made famous by Hollywood film Black Hawk Down
1995 – UN troops withdraw, leaving warlords to fight on. UN casualties number 150
2006 – Ethiopia sends troops to defend interim government
2007 – African peacekeeping force AMISOM deploys
2011 – Kenya enters Somalia in pursuit of al-Shabab militia

Piracy
The long-standing absence of authority in the country led to Somali pirates becoming a major threat to international shipping in the area, and prompted NATO to take the lead in an anti-piracy operation. International efforts were seen to bear fruit in 2012, when pirate attacks dropped sharply.

BBC News, Somalia profile – Overview, 21 October 2014

Somalis continue to experience one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. As of September 2013, there were more than 1.1 million Somalis displaced internally and nearly one million refugees living in neighboring countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, and Yemen.
The government installed in 2012 controls only a fraction of the country, and those areas remain fragile in the face of tension between competing warlords and frequent attacks from the Al Shabab terrorist group.

Current Humanitarian Situation
Increased access and stability have improved Somalia’s humanitarian situation in recent months, but only marginally. While famine conditions no longer exist, the UN estimates that there are 870,000 people in need of live-saving humanitarian assistance. Cities are coming back to life in areas where Al Shabab has given up territorial control, particularly the capital Mogadishu, where approximately 369,000 IDPs reside. However, the displaced population is not benefitting from this revival.

A complex network of local powerbrokers (including businessmen, landowners, and public officials) controls the (Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) – italics mine) displacement camps and regularly diverts incoming aid (emphasis mine).

Further, as property values rise, landowners are designating more and more land for reconstruction and development. In the process, IDP camps on that land are being cleared, and IDPs are being forced to find shelter elsewhere. The UN estimates that tens of thousands of IDPs were evicted during August and September of 2013. RI is urging the Somali government to publicly condemn forced evictions and to implement protocols to protect the rights of IDPs.
In addition to the massive IDP population, Somalia is also the second-ranking source of refugees in the world. Kenya’s Dadaab camp, designed to hold 90,000 refugees fleeing the Somali civil war in 1991, holds nearly half a million refugees more than two decades later. The Kenyan government has indicated that it wants the bulk of the refugee population to return home. However, if returns occur prematurely, there is a high likelihood that those refugees will become IDPs within Somalia, facing the same protection challenges as the IDPs who are currently living in and around Mogadishu.

In November 2013, Kenya, Somalia, and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) signed a Tripartite Agreement to establish a framework for supporting voluntary returns to Somalia. The principle of voluntariness (emphasis mine, in view of Kenya’s pressure) must be upheld, and Kenya, along with UNHCR, must continue to provide protection and support for those refugees who feel that Somalia is not yet safe enough for a return home.

Refugees International, Somalia – Overview

Hundreds of fleeing Somalis have been reported drowned or killed by smugglers. Lately, kidnapping for ransom has dramatically increased for Somali refugees.

Some Somali refugees, previously stationed in one of the many refugee camps in neighbouring countries have preferred to return to a still volatile security situation in Somalia, rather than continue to endure practices of looting and raping by security forces, supposedly there to protect them.

History, overview, trends and issues in major Somali refugee displacements in the near region, Laura Hammond, Senior Lecturer, Department of Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), February 2014.

1.5 Million out of approx.. 10 Mio Somali live outside Somalia, in the “near” and “far” diasporas, in such countries as Kenya, Ethiopia, Yemen, Djibouti, and Uganda (1.1 Mio. In the latter countries, the rest as far dispersed as Europe, U.S., U.K., North and South Africa).
UNHCR, Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, 30.9.2013

Barely 30% of the population has access to clean water and only 13% of boys and 7% of girls attend school.

From Website of International Medical Corps UK

Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and human development outcomes are now among the lowest in the world.

The pre-eminence of customary clan-based systems inhibit social cohesion and pervasive traditional practices such as polygamy, early and forced marriage, exclusion of women from education and employment opportunities, result in some of the worst gender equality indicators in the world.

With more than 70% of the population under the age of 30, Somalia is a young country with enormous development needs. Among the more urgent is food security which, together with displacement of a large share of the population, has led to a continuing humanitarian crisis that has spilled over into the wider region.
Life expectancy at birth is 51 years and infant mortality rates are estimated to be 108 deaths per 1,000 live births i.e. one in every 10 children dies in the first year (UNICEF).

The World Bank, Somalia Overview, Last Updated: Mar 09, 2015

Prayer for Libya

 

Heavenly Father, we stand in the gap for the nation of Libya and its people.

We pray for a stable and people-focussed government, free from the long-term corruption that has plagued this country.

We ask that anarchy be purged from this people, where groups with guns and self-centred ideologies rule.

We also ask that the advance of IS and extreme Muslim (Jihad) agendas be stopped in this country.

Most importantly, we lift up the long-suffering Christians in this country. They are in constant fear for their lives and are forbidden to meet together openly or to speak to anyone about their faith. I pray that they would be wise as serpents, innocent as doves (Matt. 10:16) and bold as Peter and John in Acts 4:19 and 5:29 (“We must obey God rather than men”).

Libya

Libya

“Oil was discovered in 1959 and made the state wealthy.”

“Col Gaddafi came to power by overthrowing King Idris in a coup in 1969. …In theory, power was held by people’s committees in system of direct democracy, without political parties, but in practice, Col Gaddafi’s power was absolute, exercised through “revolutionary committees” formed of regime loyalists.”

BBC News, 14 October 2014

Col Gadhafi himself was toppled in August 2011 by anti-authoritarian factions, inspired by the then “Arab Spring” sweeping the Arab world. Since then, nationalists and Islamists are in a lockdown vying for ultimate power, as described briefly below:

“When Moammar Gadhafi’s regime collapsed in 2011, Libya was left leaderless. In the ensuing years, rebel militias have battled one another for control of the country in a series of deadly bombings and shootouts. With fighting unavoidable and no end in sight, Libyan civilians are picking up AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) to protect their families from the militias.

Of course, they don’t have to look far. Libya’s parliament estimates that 15 million weapons—many left over from Gadhafi’s massive caches—are circulating within the country. That’s two and a half weapons per person. Times being what they are, many use social media to source their household arms. Since the beginning of the year, Vocativ has been monitoring Facebook and other online activity in Libya to track this phenomenon. What we discovered was a virtual arms market, complete with dealers claiming to live in Tripoli, advertised prices and hagglers in the comment section.

“Everyone has to be armed. We don’t trust the militias, we don’t trust the government, we don’t trust anyone,” says university student Ahmed Klisel, AK-47 in hand. “It’s really easy to obtain weapons in Libya. An AK-47 is a necessity in every household. More households have more than one. Or they have an AK-47 and a few pistols, handguns.”

And it’s not just men who carry weapons. Fidgeting with a small handgun, single mother Hind Ahmed Benghagab says, “We never thought we would see the day where Libyan women would need guns.”

While strife and chaos is Gadhafi’s endowment to the nation he ruled with an iron fist, it’s the second lives of the weapons he amassed and left behind that may be his lasting and violent global legacy.”

Lindsey Snell, Vladi Vovchuk and Bethany O’Grady, Vocativ, 08 January, 2014

“So far, the governments of the United States, Britain, and other European countries have insisted that the solution to Libya’s problems is political. The West has issued countless statements on this mythical political solution in the last few weeks — but that has not stopped the warring factions from indiscriminately shelling Tripoli International Airport, destroying the city’s gas and fuel tanks, and endangering civilian populations with their indiscriminate shelling.

No dialogue to find a political solution can take place while these violent clashes continue. The sound of guns and bombings is louder than everything else. The only break happened when the militias paused to watch the U.S. Air Force’s F-16s fly over Tripoli as they evacuated the embassy staff. One Tripoli resident jokingly remarked, “If only the F-16s were around a little longer, we could have had a better night’s sleep.” Many in Libya believe the United States and the West could be doing much more to quell the conflict. They could, for example, push for a U.N. Security Council resolution that would allow the use of targeted airstrikes against the armed factions. The U.S. embassy’s evacuation is a worrying sign for Libya’s democratic transition, but the United States can still work with its allies to push for meaningful intervention that would help put Libya’s transition back on track.

Karim Mezran, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, summarized it perfectly in his recent op-ed for the New York Times: The West must combine threats, intervention, and mediation to stop the fighting that has already killed hundreds in the country. Simply waiting for a “political solution” is not enough.”

Mohamed Eljarh, Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center and contributor to FP Magazine (Foreign Policy: A Trusted Advisor for Global Leaders), August 04, 2014

“With two rival governments, two parliaments and numerous armed groups, Libya finds itself experiencing the worst violence since the death of Muammar Gaddafi. As the security situation worsens, migrant workers and nationals continue to risk their lives to reach the shores of Italy by sea. An estimated 300,000 civilians have been displaced or have left North African nation.

Al Jazeera’s Diplomatic Editor James Bays, 16 Sep 2014

Libya’s Islamist militant group Ansar al-Shariah has declared an “Islamic emirate” in the eastern city of Derna and pledged allegiance to Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to media reports coming out from the North African Country.

Al Arabiya News, 6 October 2014

Judging from newspaper reports and media comments, this development and advancement of IS (ISIS) policies has unsettled many in Europe, as it appears that IS (geographically, see above map) is at Europe’s doorsteps. Comments have been made that IS will take advantage of the chaotic power situation in Libya and the West’s inactivity, in order to get a foothold on this country for the purpose of expanding their reign in this area. They also work from within Western countries, by sending newly trained and converted Jihadists with the mission to establish a world-wide Islamist state! (My comments)

“Under Gadhafi’s regime, the state was the main source of oppression of Christians. The main persecution agents today are the Christians’ direct family and community, fanatical armed groups (including Salafists), and, to a minor, extent the government. To bring in Arabic Biblical Scriptures remains strictly forbidden. This is another factor that suppresses the growth of the indigenous church. Proselytizing of Muslims and missionary activity is officially prohibited in the country…”

Open Doors report that persecution of Christians in Libya is so severe that a Filipino man was recently beheaded in Benghazi because of his Christian faith!

Open Doors website

Worldwide Arms Trade and Illegal Arms – Prayer Points

• We pray for all those involved in the manufacture of arms. We pray that they would adhere to the standards set out by legal governing authorities of their lands and the international community, represented by the UN and other ethical and legal regulators of this industry.

• Where there is greed and ethical indifference we pray that their motives will be exposed and that they will be forced to adhere to present national and international treaties or else be taken through a justice system and stopped from continuing their immoral activity.

• Father, would you sweep the world with a hunger and thirst for righteousness and convict many who are presently used by evil in promoting violence, to turn from their wicked ways and become agents of your peace.

• We bless all those who work for peace in this difficult area, such as churches and religious groups, as well as individuals and human rights organisations, in order to reduce the availability of arms and to rehabilitate both victims of violence as well as those who used to but no longer are engaged in acts of violence. May much support be given to them to continue their valuable work.

• Thank you Lord that you rule and reign sovereignly and that you delight to work together with obedient man to bring peace in the earth!

Worldwide Arms Trade and Illegal Arms

“He makes wars cease to the end of the earth.
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot of fire.” Psalm 46:9

(see also my post re claiming this promise in “Some Principles of Prayer and Intercession”)

1) THE PROBLEM:
(Note: Some of this data may presently have slightly improved but effective regulation of this enormously problematic issue will not happen overnight. Apology for the length of this research project; it is a very complex issue!)

“Arms fuel conflict. Conflict fuels instability and poverty.”

“Violence does not necessarily begin with a weapon, but it increases dramatically when weapons are present, particularly in already volatile environments rife with poverty, mistrust or injustice. They are frequently recycled from country to country, and their ownership is transferred among fighters, security forces and war profiteers.

Quick Facts
• There are approximately 640 million small arms in the world—one for every
10 people on earth.
• Nearly 60 percent of the world’s firearms are in the hands of private citizens.
• 8 million new guns are being manufactured every year by at least 1,249 companies in 92 countries.
• Every year at least 1 million firearms are stolen or lost worldwide
• According to the Small Arms Survey, military expenditure in sub-Saharan
Africa rose by 47 percent during the late 1990s, while life expectancy fell from 50
years to 46 years.
• More than 500,000 people are killed by small arms each year.

Small Arms and Light Weapons: Africa. A Resource Guide by ‘Religions for Peace’ (the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action amongst the world’s religious communities for peace).

“Small arms and light weapons are in a real sense weapons of “mass destruction.” Although small and light, they cause massive and widespread death and injury. Easy to use, conceal and maintain, they are the primary tools of violence in almost every conflict where the innocent suffer most. Small arms afflict countries in conflict and those in peace. They are available long after violent conflicts have ended.
From the theatres of wars in Somalia and DR Congo to the cities of Johannesburg, Nairobi and Lagos, they kill and maim people of all religions, social classes, and ethnicities.
In Africa where over 100 million small arms exist, their effects are devastating. In a vicious cycle, they are both a cause and effect of violence. They not only kill the innocent; they also maim, prolong conflicts, choke development and deepen poverty.
We must break this brutal cycle.”

Dr Mustafa Y. Ali, Secretary General, Religions for Peace Africa.

“UNHCR held an expert roundtable in 2012, and commissioned a number of studies on persons in flight from conflict and other armed violence, which noted that there has been an increase in the targeting or terrorizing of civilians. A 2011 study, The Global Burden of Armed Violence, has documented that more than half a million people die as a result of armed violence every year, fuelled in many cases by the widespread availability of weapons. Many more suffer horrific injuries and abuses, including rape. Still more are forced from their homes; and the long term effects of such conflict can be devastating on families and communities. The cost of providing shelter, food, water and other basic necessities to these people runs into billions of dollars every year.”

UNHCR, Press Release, 3 April 2013

“Most countries require the parties involved in arms transactions to apply for an
import/export license. This information should be recorded by national authorities. Licenses, however, do not always act as a reliable source of information. Often the quantity indicated on the license is different from the quantity actually exported, and there might not be any record on whether the delivery has actually taken place. Besides, some countries allow for open licenses, which do not report any information regarding the quantity, the actual delivery and the end-user (Holtom, 2008).

Refugees and “Missing” Arms Trade, Gaia Narciso, (Trinity College Dublin) no date listed but most recent quotation 2010
“74 per cent of the world’s weapons are supplied by just six countries. In 2010, almost 3/4 of the world’s weapons have been supplied by six of the world’s most powerful countries: USA (34.84%), Russia (14.86%), Germany (7.43%), United Kingdom (6.57%), China (6.29%), and France (4%). All but Germany are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. By allowing the trading of weapons which are then used to commit or facilitate human rights abuses, these governments are permitting their use for repression, conflict, violence, and other human rights violations.”

Amnesty International.

“Vatican City: Pope Francis spoke on Thursday of the “absurd contradiction” between the international community’s calls for peace, the proliferation of the global arms trade and the lack of attention to the suffering of refugees. Everyone talks about peace, everyone says they want it but unfortunately the proliferation of all types of arms is leading us in the opposite direction,” Francis told a group of new ambassadors to the Holy See.”

Immigration rights campaigners estimate that more than 20,000 migrants have died in the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach Italian shores in the last 20 years.

Zee News, May 15, 2014


2) SOME ANSWERS:

“UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres today applauded the approval on Tuesday by the UN General Assembly of a global arms trade treaty.

“Refugees know the costs of armed conflict better than anyone. For them in particular, as well as the millions more forcibly displaced inside their own countries by armed violence, the adoption of this treaty is badly needed,” said Guterres. “The goal for all of us must now be effective implementation.”

“Around the world, there are at least 15 million refugees plus 26 million internally displaced people. In the vast majority of cases, conflict and armed violence are the causes of their flight.
UNHCR has long urged regulation of the arms trade, as a means of reducing the terrible human cost of the poorly regulated arms trade and the widespread availability and misuse of weapons.

UNHCR, Press Release, 3 April 2013

“On Tuesday 2 April, 2013, more than 90 countries co-sponsored a new resolution in the UN General Assembly to adopt the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The resolution passed in a sweeping victory – 155 in favor, 22 abstentions and only 3 countries opposed – Iran, Syria and North Korea.

An effective ATT would be based on a simple principle: no transfers of weapons likely to be used for violations of international law. It would establish common binding standards that must be applied to assess international weapons transfers. These standards would be based on existing international law including international human rights and humanitarian law.

In practice, this should mean that a transfer of weapons will be stopped if there is evidence that the weapons are likely to be used for grave violations of international human rights, humanitarian law, or will adversely affect sustainable development.

Consider the Landmine Treaty: this treaty has reduced casualties from landmines by more than two thirds (2/3), and reduced the trade in landmines to almost zero, despite the fact that the US, China, India and Russia haven’t signed it.

A bulletproof international Arms Trade Treaty would promote justice, peace and security and is in the interests of all states, and those who suffer from the scourges of armed violence and conflict.

Why we need a global Arms Trade Treaty, Oxfam International

“Understanding the source of the demand for weapons is the starting point for any action.

Sometimes, demand for weapons can be traced to fear of violence in which weapons are perceived as a means to increase personal security. Some people choose guns or other weapons to reassert their personal worth and ensure their safety, but others then also take up arms for their own protection. It also facilitates a culture of violence in which the use of guns or other small arms is legitimized and seen as socially acceptable. There is a dangerous link to issues of masculinity and strength.

Poor socioeconomic conditions are a second reason for demand. It is often the case that less developed communities are unfortunately more violent, more likely to use weapons and to have a greater demand for them. When there is unemployment, few opportunities and little education, it is easier to become involved in criminal activities out of necessity.

Mozambique was in the midst of civil war for 16 years, during which military-style weapons were widely available in the country to arm the two main warring factions. In an effort to reduce the number of weapons in circulation, in 1992 the Christian Council of Mozambique (CCM) initiated Swords into Ploughshares, a voluntary weapons collection program in which weapons were exchanged for tools and machinery, ranging from carpentry tools to pickaxes, bicycles, sewing machines, ploughs and tractors. It is run wholly by the CCM and there is no police or political presence at the urban collection sites. In rural areas, however, police officers are often present to handle the destruction of explosives or ammunitions. Participants in the program are guaranteed anonymity, and no identification is required to participate in the exchange. CCM receives funding for the program from ecumenical partners in Europe, but had to suspend operations at times due to a lack of funding. The program is endorsed by the government of Mozambique.

The Gothenburg Process is an ecumenical initiative uniting churches and church-related organizations on the issue of the arms trade. The process takes its point of departure in the ethical dimension of the production, trade and proliferation of military equipment.

… the faith communities can promote disarmament on all levels, from the community level as well as on how to develop an advocacy agenda directed to those who make decisions on procurements and military doctrines.

… actions that support arms regulation agreements include providing information, promoting legislation or supporting programs that relate to rehabilitation or demobilization of former combatants.

…reaching out not only to the victims of armed violence but to the perpetrators and abusers of small arms whose rehabilitation and reintegration into the society is necessary for healing and lasting peace. Religious leaders are well placed to teach the forgiveness and understanding necessary for countries and regions to reconcile in peace. The transformative processes that end conflict may also prevent future ones and can be best carried out by those who hold the trust of communities and governments alike.

Supporting those who have suffered from armed violence is multifaceted. Situated at the heart of communities, religious institutions are often called on to care for the wounded and provide basic medical care or physical rehabilitation where and when it is needed. Sometimes these wounds are not only physical, but also emotional and psychological—for example, a child who struggles to understand why his mother is no longer there, a woman who has been raped at gunpoint or a parent who has seen his or her child taken off to become a soldier.

These programs replace weapons and a soldier’s skills with civilian skills. It is akin to conflict transformation, linked to peace education and works in tandem with the creation of gun collection programs and gun-free zones to create the conditions in which arms treaties can succeed. It is challenging and long-term work.

Other initiatives:
1) Advocacy
2) Engaging the Media
3) Engaging Parliamentarians

Small Arms and Light Weapons: Africa. A Resource Guide by Religions for Peace, (the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action amongst the world’s religious communities for peace).
“Multi-religious cooperation can strengthen the role of religious leaders in reducing these weapons. Working together, religious leaders can use their moral authority to call their communities to work together for the reduction of these lethal weapons. Their extended networks of grassroots congregations, women of faith and youth groups can become the frontlines of disarmament efforts.

Working to end the plague of small arms and light weapons is a religious duty, because these miserable weapons contribute so massively to the abuse of so many innocent people.”

Dr Mustafa Y. Ali, Secretary General, Religions for Peace Africa.