May 23, 2011, 2:37 PM
We pray that the call by the African Union for rich nations to help it fight a rise in drug trafficking in West Africa will be headed. It was stated by the union that this terrible practice was threatening peace and security across the region. AU Commission chairman Jean Ping told an African summit in Ethiopia that the crime wave was growing rapidly. "It is dovetailing with organised cross-border criminality with all the obvious consequences for stability, peace and security," Ping said.
This has very serious consequences for us here in The Gambia. If the kinds of gangs that engage in this trade become active then they may spread their influence even as far as our borders. Aside from this there is the worrying fact that they may peddle their wares to our young people and thereby corrupt them and leave them addicted. U.N. anti-narcotics experts say parts of West Africa are under attack from powerful Colombian cartels that channel at least 50 tonnes of cocaine each year - and possibly twice that - through the area on its way to Europe.
There may be hope for us in this fact. Governments in Europe , just like those here in West Africa do not want to see their young people become addicted to these substances. They will therefore be very well disposed towards helping those countries in our region afflicted by the scourge to tackle it. It must of grave concern to all of us to read that experts say the criminal trade is undermining the region's democratic governments and distorting its more vulnerable economies, which are mostly dependent on raw material exports.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also told the summit that drug trafficking was becoming a major challenge to security and governance in West Africa. "We are working closely with the Economic Community of West African States to roll back this dangerous phenomenon," Ban said. "But these efforts have only just begun." Let us hope that these efforts will be significantly increased so we can stamp out this threat to our region.