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UN calls for dismantling of Sahel drug trafficking networks

By AFP

April 19, 2024 06:57 PM


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The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) called for "urgent" action to dismantle drug trafficking networks fuelling instability in Africa's Sahel region, in its 2024 report published Friday.

In Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, all under military rule and where armed groups control vast swathes of territory, "the weak rule of law is facilitating the expansion of the drug economy, which can, in turn, provide financial resources for maintaining or expanding conflicts", the UNODC said.

Leonardo Santos Simao, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel, said that states in the region and the international community "must take urgent, coordinated, and comprehensive action to dismantle drug trafficking networks" entrenched within states and local elites.

Porous borders make these countries transit corridors for drugs travelling from the ports of the Gulf of Guinea, through the trans-Saharan route and onto the Mediterranean and Europe.

But in recent years, the region has also become an area of drug consumption.

"Drug trafficking is facilitated by a wide range of individuals, which can include members of the political elite, community leaders, and leaders of armed groups," the UNODC said, adding that this enables armed groups to "sustain their involvement in conflict, notably through the purchase of weapons".

"Traffickers have used their income to penetrate different layers of the state, allowing them to effectively avoid prosecution," the UNODC added.

Cannabis resin is the most frequently intercepted drug in Sahel countries, followed by cocaine and pharmaceutical opioids.

Seizures of cocaine skyrocketed in the Sahel in 2022, the UNODC said.

Armed criminal groups, separatists, jihadists or allies of the regimes in power are involved to varying degrees in the trafficking, according to the UN.


AFP


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