An Apology - It was 9.2 Million Dead in Africa in the Last 10 Years

Karl Miller July 2005

In many of my recent articles I have written "Please be mindful of the fact that 4 millions people have died in Africa in the last 6 years due to the effects of conventional arms. 4 millions dead in the last 6 years. " I apologise; I think it would have been more appropriate to say 9 million dead in the last 10 years. Perhaps a more accurate statement would be:

"In considering this proposal, Please be mindful of the fact that 9.2 millions people have died in Africa in the last 10 years (1994 to 2003) due to the effects of conventional arms in conflicts. 9 millions dead in the last 10 years. Thatís like the whole of London or New York, or Yokohama and Los Angles, or Sydney and Uruguay, or Ireland and Central African Republic dead in the last 9 years. 9 Million dead, over 70% being civilians; mostly women and children. 9 million dead, yet incredibly, not one person has been prosecuted for supplying the weapons of their destruction and death. It's like legalised aiding, abetting and facilitating mass slaughter of the innocents." Karl Miller

The Millennium Development Goals Report 2005; shows an estimate of the deaths in conflicts 1994-2003.

Estimated number of deaths in Conflicts, 1994-2003

Sub-Saharan Africa


Developed Region


Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States


Southern Asia


South-Eastern Asia


Western Asia


Latin America & the Caribbean





Source: The Millennium Development Goals Report 2005 .
Published by UN Departement of Public Information DPI/2390  - May 2005 - 35M
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"Efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger are frequently set back by conflict and natural disasters. Hunger and poverty, in turn, can provide fertile ground for conflict, especially when combined with factors such as inequality, and make being prepared to cope with disasters more difficult.

Out of the 13 million deaths in large-scale conflicts from 1994 to 2003, over 12 million were in sub-Saharan Africa, Western Asia and Southern Asia. Not surprisingly, these regions are also home to three quarters of the world's 37 million refugees and displaced persons and the areas where the number of hungry people is growing. In two of these regions - sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia - poverty is also on the rise."


The deaths in conflicts were twenty times more than the deaths due to natural disasters.

Estimated number of deaths due to Disasters, 1994-2003

Sub-Saharan Africa


Eastern Asia


Northern Africa


Developed Region


Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States




Southern Asia


South-Eastern Asia


Western Asia


Latin America & the Caribbean




Source: The Millennium Development Goals Report 2005


Where Are the Weapons Coming From

I also apologize if my article give the impression that the UK is the main supplier of Arms to Africa (for example refer to "Prime ministerís Question time Wednesday 6 Feb 2002" in The UN is in Crisis over Africa). In "Arms and Conflict in Africa" (IPPR New Economy September 2004 Volume 11, Issue 3 ) David Mepham and Andy Mclean informs us :

"Weapons flows to Africa come from a variety of different sources - licit and illicit - and through a wide variety of different means. For most of the Cold War period, the patterns of arms transfers was from the superpowers to African allies fighting in proxy wars. After 1990 the pattern changed, with the former Warsaw Pact countries becoming the major source of weapons entering Africa. As these countries reduced their arsenals, and in some cases upgraded stocks for NATO membership, large supplies of surplus military equipment became available for sale to developing countries, including Africa. Economic hardship in Central and Eastern Europe, the lack of effective arms export legislation and poor law enforcement capacity has also facilitated this trade.

More recently, the main source of arms to Africa has shifted further east, with Belarus, China, Moldova and Ukraine becoming large-scale suppliers. Moldavia is a particular concern because of the enormously insecure arsenal of arms in the TransDniestra region.

Of the G8 countries, Russia is the main supplier of Arms to  Africa. Over the last decade it has supplied significant quantities of equipment to Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Angola. President' Bush's self declared 'war on terror' has introduced a new dimension into weapons transfers in the region, with the US providing increasing levels of military assistance to countries in North, West and Eastern Africa, despite poor human rights records in some of these countries.

The UK exports relatively little military equipment to Africa (excluding South Africa), but a number of recent licensing decisions give cause for concern. This includes equipment licensed for export to Angola, Cote D'Ivorie, Ghana, Namibia and Nigeria.

Many of the arms fuelling conflict within Africa comes from within the regions. Large quantities of weapons are recycled from conflict to conflict moving across the continent's porous borders. One source of arms is the diversion or quick resale of arms imported by one African country and then re-supplied to another: for example, arms from Iran diverted via Guinea to Liberian rebels. Governments also supply other governments and rebel groups from their existing stocks."


In 2003, the US transferred arms to 18 of the 25 countries involved in active conflicts, and 20 of its top 25 arms clients in the developing world were described by the US State Department as either undemocratic or having records of major human rights abuses. This information comes from a new report by the Arms Trade Resource Center. The report recommends that the US government support the Arms Trade Treaty. 'Weapons at War' is online at


It seems I have been understating the case for an ARC treaty. I  think the above strengthens the case for Implementing Article 26 of the UN Charter, in which the states of the UN have committed "to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the worlds human and economic resources". That is what the Charter of the United Nations calls for. Some 191 states have signed up to the charter. It is full time they live up to their commitments and responsibility. I am convinced that the most appropriate way forward and the crucial missing part of the jig-saw puzzle of Disarmament treaties, resolution and conventions is an ARC treaty;  in which the United Nations (UN) to agree a legally binding instrument requiring UN member States to reduce the amount of resources spent on arms by between 1 and 5 percent per year for a period of 10 to 25 years.


"Many more will have to suffer, many more will have to die, don't ask me why" (Bob Marley).

To all the governments of the UN, arms makers, suppliers, terrorists, gunmen and killers I say "Blood run done, CEASE, NOW PEACE".

Karl Miller July 2005 - Arms Reduction Coalition