Croatia: 'Less Arms, Less Tragedies' Awarness Raising and Weapons Collection Campaign Continues in Medjimurska and Vukovarsko-Sremska Counties

From 19th through 22nd October, the awareness raising and weapons collection campaign “Less Arms, Less Tragedies” continued in Croatia, this time in the counties of Vukovarsko-Sremska and Medjimurska. The Medjimurska campaign took place at Mursko Sredisca and Piskoroved – a Roma community settlement, while the activities in the Vukovarsko-Sremska country included information booths in downtown Vinkovci and awareness rising at the Vinkovci football stadium, during the Croatia National Championship football match between Cibalia and Zadar. The campaign is financed by the European Union through SEESAC and is implemented with the assistance of the UNDP Croatia.  

On 11 March 2010, the European Union (EU), under the EU COUNCIL DECISION 2010/179/CFSP, decided to support SEESAC arms control activities in the Western Balkans, as a way to implement the EU Strategy to combat the illicit accumulation and trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and their ammunition. SEESAC’s current campaign to collect weapons, explosive devices, and associated ammunition in towns across Croatia is one such activity supported by the EU.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Croatia, and through a campaign entitled "Less Arms, Less Tragedies," residents are encouraged to voluntarily surrender any weapons they might still have in their homes, without fear of legal consequences. The Ministry of Interior has set up information and collection stands, and organized various awareness raising events with the aim of educating the Croatian public about the dangers of weapons and ways of turning them in anonymously and without sanctions. This year, campaign took place in towns and villages within the Virovitica, Varazdin, Daruvar, Zadar, Gospic, Krapina, Vukovarsko-Sremska and Medjimurska counties.

Ongoing since 2007, "Less Arms – Less Tragedies" campaign is a nationwide effort to prevent firearm-related tragedies by encouraging citizens to surrender illegal weapons to the police. It is conducted hand-in-hand with the EU funded SEESAC project for SALW destruction. Since its beginning, the collection campaign  resulted in voluntary removal of over 58,818 small arms and explosive devices, almost two million rounds of ammunition and nearly 2 tons of explosives from civilian homes – making the lives of Croatian citizens that much safer.

The first public destruction of small arms took place in 2011, in the presence of President Ivo Josipović, when a batch of 2,510 handguns and rifles were melted down at the CMC Sisak Steel Mill. A total of 30,000 small arms and light weapons are planned to be destroyed by the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Croatia. This number has so far reached approximately 10,000.

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