W. African cocaine use rises along smuggling routes


West Africans are consuming more of the drugs trafficked between South America and Europe, raising the spectre of rising crime and health problems in already unstable states, experts said.

The region, an established transit point for Latin American cocaine to big Western markets, has also become a drug processing site amid rising addiction rates, and drug-related violence will follow, they told a drug summit over the weekend.

“A flourishing illicit trade in the hands of organised crime is obviously a threat to the rule of law, governance and, as a result, human rights,” said Alexandre Schmidt, West African head for the U.N. Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

“But we must no longer hide the indirect consequences with regard to the increase in problems linked to drug abuse.”

Some 20 tonnes of cocaine passed through West Africa in 2008, worth about $1 billion, the United Nations says.

The warnings came during a meeting of seven West African governments who, backed by the United Nations, France and Spain, are seeking to implement declarations of intent to curb trafficking.

SOURCED FROM REUTERS

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