Drug Abuse: What is the role of Churches to eliminate the issue?

Rt. Rev. Alexis Birindabagabo has called for concerted efforts from the police, faith-based organisations, public and private entities, and the general public in addressing the pressing issue of drug abuse.

Birindabagabo made the call on Sunday in Rwimiyaga Sector, Nyagatare District where psychotropic substances, valued at about Rwf2.7 million, were destroyed.

The campaign against drugs was organised by Birindabagabo under the theme: “The role of the Church in the elimination and control of illicit drugs among the youth.”

Present among others was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) Prof. Anastase Shyaka, the Mayor of Nyagatare District, Claudian Mushabe, the District Police Commander, Senior Supt. Pierre Tebuka and clergymen from various churches in Nyagatare as well as residents.

Birindabagabo, who heads the inter-religious efforts to eliminate illicit drugs, reminded the residents that they are the first responders in combating the vice and protecting the young generation, who are the majority users and victims of illicit drugs.

More than 70 per cent of people involved in drug related crimes, including addicts, are aged between 18 and 35, according to police statistics.

He called for the “commitment” of parents, guardians, teachers, faith-based groups and society in general to teach their youngsters the “path of righteousness.”

“Above all we need to make sure that the young people are empowered and we should build them up spiritually, without them we don’t have a nation,” Birindabagabo said.

He noted that the Church is embarking on this joint campaign because “we know that drugs can kill the vision and destroy the future of the youth.”

“We all know that the youth are restless, they want to explore themselves and if they are not positively engaged certainly evil people like drug dealers will,” he observed.

Shyaka commended the critical role played by faith-based organisations in supplementing government development initiatives.

Shyaka urged the residents to give no room to people with self-gains at the expense of the lives of other people.

In Nyagatare District, Rwimiyaga Sector has the highest record of drug trafficking, Tebuka said.

In the past few months, about 100 drug traffickers were arrested in Rwimiyaga, he added.

The new penal code increased the sentence, from seven years to life in prison, for anyone convicted of trafficking or making narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.