A necessary destruction: Working for a weapons-free world in Kosovo*

Jul 29, 2015

At 57 years old, Asllan Uka, a husband and father of four, is also one of many victims of stray bullets in Kosovo. Asllan has lived in a wheelchair for the last ten years, following a devastating accident that took place at a wedding celebration.

Asllan was in his car when an acquaintance fired off celebratory shots.

The shooter was under the impression that he had completed the round and was putting the weapon away as he entered the car. Unfortunately there was one stray bullet left, and he accidentally fired the shot, which went through the headrest of the driver’s seat, and into Asllan’s neck.

The outcome was debilitating: the bullet hit his T4 vertebra, Asllan was left paralyzed from the chest down. “I went through a very long and challenging rehabilitation process,” he says.

His youngest son, now aged 15, cannot remember a time when his father could walk. Asllan is currently unemployed and receives only €75 assistance each month.

“Asllan’s story serves as a reminder of the dangers of inadequately secured, surplus and illicit weapons,” says UNDP’s Alessandra Roccasalvo. “We feel that the destruction of small arms is essential in order to reduce the number of illegal weapons in the market, as well as the potential supply of such weapons in the future. This is the only way to ensure we can decrease the number of people who will face similar hardships to Mr. Uka in the future.”

In light of International Small Arms Destruction Day, Kosovo has recently destroyed over 1,700 small arms and light weapons. The destruction was organized by the Kosovo Police and took place at Shkritorija, Janjevo. The arms that were destroyed were weapons that the police had confiscated during their criminal investigation work. 

The initiative receives support from the European Union, SEESAC, and the UNDP’s Firearms and Explosives Risk Minimization project. The objective is to raise awareness of the dangers of surplus, illegal and insufficiently secured weapons, and to increase the security and safety of people living in Kosovo.

* References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999)

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