UN: Piracy and Organised Crime Perpetuate Poverty in West Africa
“These billions represent lost potential, and funds that could otherwise be invested in illicit economies and in developing coastal communities — funds that are needed now more than ever in the continuing COVID-19 crisis,” said Ghada Fathi Waly, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC,) in a briefing to the Council.
“The attendant lack of opportunities and frustration driving more young people to piracy and crime, and making them more receptive to radicalisation narratives,” said a summary of her briefing released by the U.N. “Such desperate conditions render more people vulnerable to human trafficking and migrant smuggling, and more women and girls at greater risk of exploitation and sexual violence.”
The region is also a hub for drug trafficking.
“West Africa has become a manufacturing hub for methamphetamine, mainly destined for markets in East and South-East Asia, while cocaine trafficking poses a security threat, with the region serving as a major transit area for onward shipments to Western and Central Europe, as well as cannabis resin trafficking,” said the U.N.’s summary of her briefing.
With the Gulf of Guinea being the exit point for much of West Africa's natural wealth, it's a lucrative region, but unlike in East Africa, where pirates captured whole ships including their cargo, in the west, they have focused on kidnapping. Leaving the ships afloat, captured crews are far more easily movable to be held for ransom at jungle camps, often in the Niger delta region of Nigeria where most of the pirate crews are based.
Currently a majority of victims of human trafficking in West Africa are children and more than a quarter of them are women.
Piracy in the region has jumped in recent years, entirely replacing the Red Sea and other regions, and account for almost all maritime kidnappings in 2020, according to According to Fathi Waly, organized crime, both on sea and land, is fed by local corruption and has led to a state of instability which has left many in desperate situations and led to a rise in violence.
Sourcs: OCCRPFebruary 18, 2022