FYR of Macedonia: Some 8,000 illegal arms handed over in UN-backed scheme

18 December 2003

Almost 8,000 illegal weapons have been surrendered to authorities in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia under a voluntary disarmament scheme and amnesty backed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Rocket launchers, land mines, hand grenades, assault rifles, AK-47s and detonators for lethal explosives were among the 7,751 weapons handed in during the 45-day amnesty, which ended on Monday. Officials reported that many of the weapons were returned from areas that have recently seen armed conflict.

"The citizens of the country have taken another step forward on the path towards a future of peaceful co-existence, rule of law and international integration," UNDP's Resident Representative in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Frode Mauring, said in the capital, Skopje.

During the drive, members of the public were encouraged to hand in weapons through innovative incentives, including a televised lottery offering prizes to randomly chosen participants.

The UNDP helped local authorities raise awareness about the disarmament programme, assisted in developing its legal framework and coordinated international observation of the weapons collections.


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