Human Rights

Gambia, 6 others unite against drugs

By Kemo Cham
A seven nation alliance which includes the Gambia has been unveiled aimed at fighting growing threat posed by drug barons frequenting the Latin American-West African route.
Gambia, alongside Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Cape Verde, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal have a shared concern for the soaring cocaine trade and drug use in the region, which has made the area a favourite for terror groups like Al-Qaeda, according to various reports.
With a 15 million Euros aid from the European Union, these countries on Monday agreed to step up efforts to control the problem through the “Dakar Initiative”, which was launched in collaboration with the European Union, in the Senegalese capital. The drugs which are transited through this region from Latin America are destined for Europe, thus the interest of the European Union.
“It is time to act, together, Europeans and Africans,” the AFP quoted Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency.
According to Mr Rubalcaba, Spain is a major transit point for drugs coming from North Africa and Latin America.
According to reports, the powerful nature of drug cartels have rendered previous efforts to combat drug trafficking less effective, and participants at the seven nation drug summit have agreed to put into operation measures previously agreed in 2008.
“We have agreed to act more and talk less,” Senegal’s Interior Minister Becaye Diop said. “Europe will provide aid of 15 million Euros (21 million dollars) and France will contribute nearly 800,000 Euros,” the French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux, told the gathering.
Cocaine traded for arms in West Africa

Persistent reports of the presence of the international terror group, AL-Qaeda, in the region have served as a constant source of unease. Fears of drugs serving as source of conflict fuelling in the region were heightened by revelation by the executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, that cocaine shipped to West Africa by Latin American drug barons are now being traded for arms.
AFP quoted the UN official as saying that “there is more than just spotty evidence” indicating a link between drug traffickers and terror groups.
He warned that before the situation becomes a very serious problem, it had to be dealt with and ‘‘nipped in the bud.”
Mr Costa added that there was also new evidence of drug production in the region of West Africa.

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