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01.03.2007 General News

Drug trafficking in Africa disturbing

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has expressed concern about the inadequate drug control mechanisms and skilled human resources to deal with drug trafficking in Africa.

“It is feared that if left unchecked, the problem of drug trafficking in Africa might further exacerbate existing social, economic and political problems,” it warned.

This was contained in the INCB's 2006 Annual Report.

It said a particularly worrisome development in Africa was the large-scale trafficking in cocaine, adding that “both the number of couriers apprehended and the volume of bulk seizures of cocaine in Africa have increased significantly”.

It noted that drug trafficking networks were taking advantage of the weak interdiction capacities in Africa and using the region as a transit area for smuggling cocaine from South America through Western, Central and Southern Africa.

The report said heroin from West and South-East Asia was smuggled through Eastern Africa, and shipped to illicit markets in Europe and, to a lesser extent, North America.

“As a spill over effect of the ongoing transit trafficking in heroin in Eastern Africa, the abuse of heroin has become a problem there.

In addition, heroin is now also being smuggled by groups from West Africa to that sub-region, in exchange for cocaine that is smuggled into South Asia, where the abuse of cocaine appears to have spread,” it said.

It said cultivation and production of cannabis, which remained the major drug of abuse in Africa, was on the rise, despite a marked reduction in cannabis production in Morocco, the world's largest producer of cannabis resin, and despite intensive eradication efforts undertaken by the authorities.

“Africa's share of global trafficking in cannabis has been increasing continuously, as corroborated by a number of multi-ton seizures of cannabis herb and resin in Africa during the last year,” it said.

The report expressed concern about the serious difficulties facing many African countries in providing adequate treatment and rehabilitation for persons abusing cannabis, as health-care facilities often lacked the necessary resources.

The President of the INCB, Dr Philip O. Emafo, said that in an age where technological developments were being used for sinister purposes, persons engaged in drug law enforcement and drug regulation needed to be better trained and equipped.

“We should deploy our expertise for the good of all by co-operating and collaborating better, while guarding our mandates,” he said, and stressed the need for strengthening intelligence sharing between states.

Dr Emafo urged governments to recognise the importance of drug demand reduction activities in alleviating the drug problem.

According to him, eventual success in tackling the world drug problem depends not only on appropriate legislation that is effectively implemented but also on well-designed demand reduction programmes that are conducted by well-motivated human resources as “they play a significant role in determining how successful the outcome of our efforts are”.

Dr Emafo also stressed the need for circumspection in designating men and women who led drug control authorities.

Source: Daily Graphic

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