Peter Matambanadzo Senior Reporter
Corruption, poverty and high youth unemployment in Africa is creating a breeding ground for drug trafficking on the continent, which is a major cause for concern, a senior African Union official has said. Speaking at the two-day continental experts consultation conference on drug trafficking and related challenges to human security in Harare, AU director of Social Affairs, Dr Olawale Maiyegun said there was an urgent need for comprehensive and organised interventions to combat drug trafficking.
The two-day conference seeks to discuss improved responses to address drug trafficking and related challenges to human security.
Also at the centre of discussion is the legislative and law enforcement responses and reporting frameworks, priority strategies and data collection and reporting.
“In Africa we are faced or we are dealing with vast cross borders and coastlines. The presence of fragile and post-conflict States weakens criminal justice systems.
“Corruption, poverty, high youth unemployment are all working together and serving as potential breeding grounds for criminality and a host of social problems.
“We must have a balanced and integrated approach and if these challenges are not confronted we will not overcome,” said Dr Maiyegun.
He said drug trafficking was an organised crime linked to human trafficking, terrorism, trafficking of weapons, small arms which involved corruption and money laundering that serve as a common denominator to all of them.
Dr Maiyegun said the devastating consequences of drug trafficking were a threat to democratic governments and stability of nations.
“We are all affected. We are all living witnesses to what happened in Kenya and we can see it shows we are all vulnerable,” he said adding that drug traffickers continued to seek for new markets and constantly changed their methods of operation.
He bemoaned the lack of comprehensive reporting, data collecting and analysis as major challenges. Dr Maiyegun said despite the challenges, Africa had demonstrated a political commitment to address drug trafficking through a comprehensive adoption of the AU Drug Plan of Action.
Dr Maiyegun said the AU Peace and Security Council earlier this year took a decision and gave the AU Commission a mandate to address the social and economic security challenges of drug trafficking in Africa. European Union special advisor Mr Giorgio Romano said the bloc was committed to working with Africa to fight drug trafficking.
Officer in Charge, Regional office for the Southern Africa office of Drugs and Crime, Mr Ehab Salah Ahmed also said drug use in Africa was expanding particularly among young people and there was a need for countries to find new ways of combating drug trafficking.