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Up in arms: the dealer

MiCT The Niles
How weapons influence everyday life: Accounts of relationships between guns and people — the dealer.
16.12.2014  |  Dimso
وسم الأسلحة في الجنينة، دارفور في يونيو 2013، كجزء من مشروع تسجيل الأسلحة الذي تقوم به الحكومة السودانية بالتعاون مع BICC.
وسم الأسلحة في الجنينة، دارفور في يونيو 2013، كجزء من مشروع تسجيل الأسلحة الذي تقوم به الحكومة السودانية بالتعاون مع BICC.

For thirty-two-year-old A. A. from Darfur, entering the violent world of arms trading was easier than trying to get out.

I really do not want to continue with this profession for it implies great risks. This is merely a phase that young men go through.

I want to be appreciated and feared. Any other profession will not help me achieve this local status. Arms trading is the only profitable profession that would provide protection for my money as well as my family. Tribal protection is available for outlaws who are deemed heroes for the risks they take in times of crisis.

Everyone here trades with Darfur’s crisis whether they work in arms or politics. Everyone wants personal gains. So, I will continue with my profession to protect myself.”
I am married with three children who survive from livestock and farming. I cannot give them the illegitimate money I make since it is against our Islamic teachings. All the money I make is just to brag among members of my tribe – I donate most of my revenue to my community.

Under the current circumstances, I cannot leave this profession.

Arms are mostly traded locally but some weapons are smuggled from neighbouring countries with armed conflicts. Arms cost between 7,000 to 20,000 Sudanese pounds (US$ 1,200 to 3,500).

Some are bought for personal protection and others, like heavy machine guns, DShK and Katyusha multiple rocket launchers, are sold to communities during armed conflicts between different groups.

Small arms like Kalashnikovs and guns are usually sold through a broker. That means the buyer won’t be abused by dealers who could steal back the weapon to resell it to someone else, doubling profits.

It used to be hard to get hold of a weapon. Now people follow armed clashes between the government and the rebels, collecting the weapons from the dead.

The knights of a tribe join battles against rebels, siding with the army because they are tempted by the possibility to loot, taking rebels’ weapons, ammunition or vehicles.

On news of armed conflict in neighbouring countries, dozens of adventurous young men head for the fighting, hoping to get hold of weapons.

Criminals use the African Union - United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to seize arms. They attack the compound until everyone flees, then they take the guns which get sold at local markets. Police stations are also raided, especially in remote areas.

Many in the region turn to arms trading because of unemployment.

Everyone here trades with Darfur’s crisis whether they work in arms or politics. Everyone wants personal gains. So, I will continue with my profession to protect myself.”