Illicit Trafficking and Eastern Africa

UNODC ROEA establishes programmes to combat illicit trafficking, which includes human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants, but also extends to trafficking in drugs and wildlife products. Over the past decade human trafficking has become one of the major concerns of the international community and one of the most profitable activities of organized criminal groups worldwide. Like many other forms of criminal activity, it takes advantage of conflicts, humanitarian disasters and the vulnerability of people in situations of crisis. Men, women and children are abducted and sold for sexual exploitation and forced labour. Trafficking of heroin, cocaine, cannabis and amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) into and through Eastern Africa is increasing, combined with emerging trafficking of precursor substances. The international airports in Nairobi, Kenya, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia are key entry points for illicit drugs into the region, primarily due to the frequent commercial flights from Asia and the Middle East. The seaports of Dar es Salaam and Mombasa are also entry points favoured by drug traffickers.

Key causes for the growth in trafficking include:

  • The growing domestic market for illicit drugs in East Africa and the entire African continent;
  • Frequent international flights;
  • Inadequate trafficking controls, making Eastern Africa a convenient transit point for drug trafficking to the African continent at large, Europe and North America;
  • Corruption amongst law enforcement and customs officers based at the seaports and airports.