All roads led to Rusarabuye Sector in Burera District, yesterday, as top government officials and security organs engaged thousands of residents to own and strengthen community policing efforts to combat drug related crimes, which are still rated high in the country and affecting mainly the youth.
The outreach exercise included ministers; Francis Kaboneka of Local Government, Dr. Diane Gashumba of Health, Rosemary Mbabazi of Youth and, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Emmanuel K. Gasana.
The Governor of the Northern Province Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi and Prosecutor General Jean Bosco Mutangana, among others, we also in attendance.
Separate meetings with local leaders and residents were held and later conducted a public destruction of seized narcotics and parading of about 160 suspected drug dealers that were arrested with the disposed of substances.
About 2918 dozens of banned contrabands in different brands seized in various police operations in Burera, recently, were disposed of.
Minister Kaboneka reminded the residents not to allow such drug dealers in their midst adding that “you and your children are the immediate victims.”
“A lot has been achieved in various aspects of development, but again a lot in education, health and resource development, among others is still hampered by such illicit drugs,” Kaboneka said, referring to the paraded suspects, majority being the youth.
Minister Gashumba explained the health hazards of abusing drugs, citing heart, kidney, liver diseases and hepatitis as some of the life threatening diseases caused by illicit drugs.
IGP Gasana, on his part, said, “There is a redline against narcotic drugs, and you are part of the force to report everyone still involved to face the wrath of the law.”
“We can’t allow lives of young people to be wasted by individual with personal evil agenda. We have mapped out about 80 routes between Gatuna and Burera used by traffickers, and operations have been intensified, we counting on your usual cooperation and information sharing, to arrest them,” IGP Gasana added.
The Northern region is one of the major routes for traffickers of banned gin in different brands, especially in the three districts of Gicumbi, Musanze and Burera.
Residents of Burera and Gicumbi have since formed at least one anti-drugs club in every sector, which police say, have been effective in identifying and arresting dealers.
Meanwhile, Governor Gatabazi said that action will also be taken to local leaders who areas are hubs of drug dealers, defining it as an act of incompetence.
This exercise came at a time when there are efforts between Rwanda National Police and other institutions as well as the public, to map-out routes used by traffickers and to break chains of supply.
Over the years, fighting trafficking, making, selling and using of illicit drugs has been one of the priorities if Rwanda National Police through continuous community awareness which facilitates information flow on dealers, routes used, and abusers, which police said, has been effective in ensuring successful operations to arrest dealers and seize illicit substances.
State of drugs in Rwanda
Police statistics indicate that crimes related to narcotic drugs decreased by at least 3 percent from 4059 cases registered in 2016 to 3941 recorded this year.
Over 2040 drug dealers have also been arrested since the beginning of the year while people aged between 18 and 35 years constitute the majority 40 percent of the arrested dealers and abusers, in the same period.
Only 48 people aged below 18 years, have been arrested this year for either dealing or abusing drugs, all referred in rehabilitation centres.
While appearing on the television talk-show that focused on illicit drugs in Rwanda, over the weekend, Aime Bosenibamwe, the coordinator of National Rehabilitation Services (NRS), said that a total of 12228 addicted youth aged between 18 and 35 year, have so far been rehabilitated and equipped with vocational skills since 2012.
According to Bosenibamwe, about 90 percent of the rehabilitated youth have healed completely from drug consequences and currently putting the vocational skills attained from rehabilitations centres to good use in varied income generating activities.
Currently, there are two rehabilitation centres in the country, with the third one set to start soon.
Meanwhile, 79 illegal distilleries have also been closed in different parts of the country in a joint RNP and Rwanda Standards Board (RBS) operations.