UNODC, ECOWAS launch West African drug report for 2014-2017




 The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), on Wednesday, launched the West African report for 2014 to 2017 to curb illicit drug trafficking in the region.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the official public presentation ceremony was held in Abuja with the support from other agencies and partners.
Speaking at the occasion, Mr Oliver Stolpe, the UNODC Representative in Nigeria said that the report was the final draft of the first ever drug report presented by the ECOWAS drug unit.
Stolpe said that the most frequently used drug across the region remains cannabis, adding that one out of five persons who accesses drug treatment was between the ages of 10 to 19 years old.
According to him, non-medical use of prescription such as Tramadol appears to be growing most rapidly in the region.
“The most frequently used drug across the region remains cannabis and the majority of persons accessing treatment facilities, do so to tackle cannabis related drug use disorders.
“Of particular concern in this context is that one in five persons who accesses drug treatment services were younger adults of between age 10 and 19 years old.
“The non-medical use of prescription such as Tramadol appears to be growing most rapidly.
“The coming into existence of a massive illicit Tramadol market in just a few years is of great concern to citizens and governments in the region,” he said.
Stolpe, however, announced that in a week’s time, the ECOWAS, EU and UNODC would validate another study that would specifically analyse the trends and trafficking routes of Tramadol.
He said that based on the report, those most affected by drug use were between 20 to 29 years old, and that the report had also linked drug use disorder and unemployment.
According to him, though it remains unclear whether it is the difficulties of finding a job which make many young people turn to drugs or taking drugs that makes it more difficult to get a job.
Dr Siga Jagne, Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, ECOWAS Commission, said the report provides evidence based information on emerging trends in drug use, treatment and trafficking to guide policy makers in ECOWAS member states.
Jagne, who was represented by Dr. Sintiki Ugbe, Director Humanitarian and Social Affairs, ECOWAS Commission, said that drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking was a serious issues in the region.
She said it was disheartening that West Africa states continue to be a region of particular concern in a global issue of drug phenomenal.
Ugbe said that the commission was able to achieve its mandate on having reliable, valid data for the region through the contributions of the European Union.
“The report provides evidence-based information on emerging trends in drug use, treatment and trafficking to guide policy makers in ECOWAS member states.
Also speaking, Mr Kurt Cornelis, Head of Cooperation of European Union Delegation to ECOWAS said that the persistent drug problems present in the region and the consequences for security, economy, society and health, weakens the foundations of the rule of law.
He said that West Africa is an important transit area for the trafficking of cocaine and heroin, adding that there is an alarming increase in local consumption of all kinds of drugs.
According to him, the programme is to strengthen the ECOWAS advocacy, monitoring and coordination capacity, to also harmonise information on drug abuse epidemiology and make data available. (NAN)




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