UNITED NATIONS, Chief of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said that, his agency is registering new, alarming trends in drug trafficking in West and Central Africa.

The scourge has disruptive and destabilising effects on governance, security, economic growth and public health in the region, UNODC Executive Director, Yuri Fedotov, told the Security Council.

Criminal networks are no longer limiting activities to transiting cocaine and heroin through Africa, but for destination markets in Europe and elsewhere, he noted.

UNODC’s 2018 World Drug Report shows that, West and Central Africa, along with North African countries, accounted for 87 percent of pharmaceutical opioids seized globally. This is largely due to rising use of tramadol, an opioid painkiller that is widely trafficked for non-medical use in the region, he said, from Vienna.

Africa, along with Asia, also saw the largest rises in cocaine seizures, suggesting that cocaine trafficking and consumption have spread to these markets, he said.

Heroin seizures at African airports are also on the rise, with Lagos, Accra and Cotonou airports high on the list, closely followed by Bamako, Lome and Ouagadougou, he said.

Methamphetamine seizures have now almost reached the same level as cocaine seizures, with Lagos and Cotonou the main airports concerned. Recently, an increased number of seizures of precursors, such as, Ephedrine and Phenacetine has been recorded at both airports, which may indicate the existence of new laboratories producing psychoactive substances, said Fedotov.

With the caveat that there is a lack of reliable and recent data on the extent of drug use in the area, UNODC estimates that in 2016, there were more than 34 million cannabis users in West and Central Africa, as well as, 1.8 million cocaine users, he said.

Globally, only one in six people suffering from drug use disorders receives treatment. However, in Africa this figure is much lower, with only one in 18 problem drug users having access to treatment.

At the same time, the region is grappling with many other crime-related security threats, including arms trafficking, money laundering, human trafficking, cyber-crime and maritime piracy, as well as, threats posed by terrorism, said Fedotov, adding that, the linkages between terrorism, illicit drugs and other forms of crime have been widely acknowledged.

Source: NAM News Network