$1.2 Billion Worth Of Cocaine Goes Through West Africa Annually, UN

Written by Ann Brown

From Business Standard

The UN secretary-general says an estimated USD 1.2 billion worth of cocaine transits through West Africa each year, and the Security Council is expressing “deep concern” about the drug trade’s increasing links to terrorist groups.

The council issued a presidential statement yesterday after Ban Ki-moon briefed it on the widespread risks to stability in a region where borders are porous, governments are poorly funded and extremist groups are active.

West Africa’s recent rise as a route for cocaine and other drugs from Latin America to Europe has startled the international community.

Diplomats now point out that the region is producing its own drugs, including methamphetamine.

Ban says the region now has “more than a million users of illicit drugs,” which hurts development in the vast region where unemployment earlier this year was estimated at 10 per cent.

The region is seeing a “growing number of HIV infections due to drug injections,” Yury Fedotov, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, told the Security Council.

Fedotov also noted that the links between drug traffickers and extremist groups in the region are becoming “more obvious.”

The presidential statement urges the countries in the region to work together to strengthen their borders and improve the fight against trafficking.

Ban contrasted the “weak intergovernmental coordination” in the region with the tight links among drug traffickers there.

Fedotov said the total amount of cocaine going through West Africa in 2010 was close to 33 tons, with 18 tons destined for Europe alone.