UNODC and Senegal intensify efforts to curb drug trafficking and organized crime in West Africa

27 October 2011. Dakar/Vienna - "Robust regional strategies are the most effective response to drug trafficking and ever-more aggressive forms of organized crime in West Africa," said Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in meetings yesterday with Government ministers in Dakar, Senegal.  Mr. Fedotov voiced concern over the rising numbers of drug seizures and arrests taking place across West Africa. In 2011 alone, 40 kilograms (kg) of cocaine were intercepted in Senegal; 1.5 metric tons in Cape Verde; over 400 kg in Benin; some 190 kg in Benin; and 450 kg in Nigeria.

In recent years, West Africa has emerged as a hub for cocaine trafficking between Latin America and Europe. That threat is compounded by widespread corruption and money-laundering, which can harm development and stability.  The 2011 UNODC report The Transatlantic Cocaine Market said that roughly 35 tons of South American cocaine were destined for West and Central Africa in 2009.  About 13 tons were consumed locally, with the rest, some 21 tons, being shipped to West and Central Europe.

Marking an important step forward in controlling transatlantic flows of cocaine, the Executive Director launched the Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force at Dakar airport, a regional air traffic hub. The task force will boost the effectiveness of the Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP), which promotes intelligence-gathering and information-sharing between 20 international airports in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Europe. Developed in cooperation with the World Customs Organization (WCO) and Interpol, and funded by the European Union and Canada, task forces will operate around the clock to increase the number drug seizures and the effectiveness of related investigations. They will have access to the international databases of Interpol and to a secured system of communications managed by WCO.

In a meeting with Mr. Said Djinnit, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa, Mr. Fedotov raised concerns about Benin, which is witnessing acts of maritime piracy. Pirate attacks in a region ill-equipped to counter the threat could disrupt shipping and investment, and further weaken security. Therefore, UNODC, the UN Office for West Africa, the UN Departments for Political Affairs and Peacekeeping Operations, and the International Maritime Organization are planning to assess the region's capacity to combat piracy.

UNODC focuses on peace-building, security sector reform and institution-building through its Regional Programme for 2010-2014, which supports the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Regional Action Plan to address the growing problem of illicit drug trafficking, organized crime and drug abuse in West Africa. Mr. Fedotov stated that UNODC was at the disposal of all parties to help in the implementation of the Plan.

 

For further information please contact:

In Vienna, Austria:

Preeta Bannerjee, Public Information Officer: UNODC

T: (+43-699) 1459-5764 | M: (+43-699) 1459-5764 | E: preeta.bannerjee{at}unodc.org

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