A senior United Nations aid official called on Thursday for a halt to arms sales to Africa, saying it would be more effective in addressing the continent's poverty than charity rock concerts or debt relief.
Dennis McNamara, special U.N. adviser on internal displacement, slammed world powers for neglecting some 12.5 million Africans uprooted within their countries, who form half of the world's internally displaced persons (IDPs).
He accused the West of supplying the weapons fuelling African conflicts which leave civilians homeless -- and prey to war crimes, hunger, disease and rape -- while greedy companies exploit the oil and mineral wealth.
"Guns are at the heart of the problem ... There is one slogan I would like to suggest for 2006: No Arms Sales to Africa. Zero. Not an embargo, not a sanction, a voluntary cessation of all arms sales to Africa," McNamara told a news briefing.
"The kids on the streets of Nairobi, Khartoum, Abidjan and Monrovia have guns in their pockets or up their sleeves ... We provided the arms. We the West, we the G8," he added, referring to the Group of Eight industrialized nations.