12 July 2012 -During a briefing to the Security Council, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov expressed his concern about drugs and crime in West Africa.
Thirty tons of cocaine and almost 400 kg of heroin were trafficked in West Africa in 2011, and methamphetamine laboratories were recently discovered in the region. According to the World Drug Report 2012, cocaine trafficking in West Africa is estimated to generate some $900 million in annual profits for criminal networks. But West Africa is no longer simply a transit route, it has also become a final destination. The report shows that there are now up to 2.3 million cocaine users in West and Central Africa, most of them in West Africa.
The Executive Director said that with increased trafficking, production and consumption of drugs, as well as piracy and insecurity, West Africa represents one of the key challenges for UNODC and remains one of its priorities. He stressed the need for coordinated action in the face of these rapidly evolving transnational threats. "The complex challenges West Africa faces represent a severe test for the individual countries and for the region as a whole. UNODC will continue to work with its partners to build the commitment and develop the necessary solutions in this extremely fluid and fast-moving environment," he said.
In the face of all these challenges, UNODC is building political commitment through regional platforms, especially ECOWAS; developing inter-agency approaches; and delivering solutions through its integrated regional programmes. The West Africa Coast Initiative, in which UNODC is a key player, has been building national and regional capacities in law enforcement, forensics, intelligence, border management, money-laundering and the strengthening of criminal justice systems.
To address the relatively new but growing phenomenon of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, which has seen over 100 piracy attacks since 2010, UNODC co-led a United Nations assessment mission and is currently working on a national integrated programme for Benin, which includes efforts to address piracy and maritime security.
Together with the Department of Political Affairs, UNODC is drafting the Secretary-General's report on the impact of transnational organized crime in West Africa and the Sahel region. To help to counter money-laundering, UNODC has established transnational crime units in Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Later in the year, UNODC will issue a threat assessment for the region, emphasizing the transatlantic route for cocaine.
"Our aim must be to help countries sustain their development, while also ensuring peace and prosperity in the region," concluded Mr. Fedotov.