Oct 15 2013, 3:54pm CDT | by IANS
Harare, Oct 16 — Parts of Africa have emerged as new transit points for syndicates using container ships or small boats to smuggle narcotics from Latin America or central Asia to consumer markets, an African Union Commission (AUC) official said Tuesday.
Opening a regional workshop on drug control here, Olawale Maiyegun, director of AUC's social affairs department, said Africa is dealing with vast porous boarders and coastlines, fragile and post conflict states, weak criminal justice systems and corruption, that made the continent vulnerable to drug trafficking, Xinhua reported.
According to United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), seizures of heroin in the past few years were particularly high in Nigeria, Benin, Togo on the western African coast and Tanzania on the eastern coast.
The UN office said in east Africa the seizures increased almost 10-fold since 2009.
Maiyegun said coping with the threats of drug trafficking is difficult even for the most developed and stable countries and Africa now needs robust responses to counter the sophisticated crime.
Maiyegun said the continental body did not know the exact quantities of drugs passing through Africa as information of drug seizures across the continent remains fragmented.
"We are trying to estimate the extent of the problem but what we know is that without an exaggeration," Maiyegun said.
The UNODC also acknowledged in its 2013 report that while it is clear that the African continent is becoming increasingly important and vulnerable in terms of the proliferation of trafficking routes, the availability of data is very limited.
It said maritime trafficking, which usually involves larger seizures than road or rail trafficking, poses a particularly knotty challenge for the authorities.
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