By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, April 3, 2012- Yemen's Interior Minister said that widespread access to weapons across the country led to the killing of more than 4000 people, including children and women, and the wounding of an estimated 27441 civilians in 2010 and 2011.
The Interior's ministry's website reported that an urgent priority of the ministry was to prevent the carrying of weapons inside Yemen's provinces, limited the possibility of accidents. "Preventing the circulation of weapons inside Yemen's provinces is a national issue demanding unifying efforts in the exceptional stage of the country preventing Yemen from moving forward,'' the statement read.
The ministry called on citizens in the country to stop carrying weapons because he warned it was preventing the country from moving forward, perpetuating a state of insecurity which was hindering economic recovery and investors' confidence.
''Widespread weapons in the country as we have seen threaten security and stability in the society, and it would help in increasing the crimes within the country such as killing, kidnapping, looting, blocking roads, armed robbery, stealing, and revenge,'' it read.
''Holding and owning weapons have a negative impact on development, investment, and tourism,'' the statement stressed.
Widespread weapons in main cities in Yemen have increased after more than a year of protests.
The Yemeni government has taken significant positive steps - since 2007 in particular - to curtail weapons carrying in urban areas and reduce the domestic arms market but the same policy hindered in the last two years.
Social violence in the impoverished republic is exacerbated by the widespread ownership of weapons. The oft-cited statistic claiming that there are 60 million guns in Yemen has been repeatedly debunked, but this report’s more realistic estimate of 11 million weapons, in a country of 23 million, nevertheless represents one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world.
Two thousand Yemenis die every year in ethnic conflicts, according to government figures, and gun-related crime keeps growing.