The threat of terrorism and organized crime is increasingly entrenched in Africa, the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime told the Security Council on Thursday, warning that the illegal trade is depriving millions of people.
of a decent livelihood.
UNODC chief Ghada Waly said there were around 3,500 victims of terrorist acts in sub-Saharan Africa last year, almost half of those recorded worldwide.
The vast Sahel region in particular has become home to some of the most active and deadly terrorist groups, and a better understanding of the links between organized crime and terrorism through rigorous data collection is essential.
The evidence is there that the illegal exploitation of precious metals and minerals such as gold, silver and diamonds are feeding the extremists with important sources of income and benefiting the groups that control the extraction and trafficking routes.
He said that, based on the UNODC investigation, “we have established that illegally mined gold and other precious metals enter the legitimate market, generating huge profits for traffickers.”
Wildlife trafficking has also been reported as a potential source of funding for militias, he added, with the illegal ivory trade alone generating $400 million in illicit revenue each year.
Exploited Millions With a population of about 1.3 billion, almost 500 million Africans were living in extreme poverty by 2021, he told the ambassadors.
“This criminal exploitation robs the people of Africa of an important source of income.
It robs millions of people who depend on these natural resources for their livelihoods.
And it fuels conflict and exacerbates instability.” The climate emergency and the COVID-19 pandemic have also wreaked havoc on already fragile economies across Africa, and illicit trafficking only serves to further jeopardize development and delay progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.
She said that sustainable development would be impossible without peace and stability for the continent, noting that the UNODC is “the guardian” of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the main international bulwark against black market traffickers.
Fighting the networks “We support member countries to implement the necessary policies, legislation and operational responses to better address terrorist threats… In 2021 alone, we implemented 25 counter-terrorism projects in sub-Saharan Africa, with more than 160 activities carried out, and trained 2,500 people.” She told the meeting that today in the Sahel, UN training workshops are being organized with the UN Interregional Justice and Crime Research Institute, to strengthen the understanding and skills of justice officials.
to work across agencies, share intelligence, and “take down terrorists.”
the networks and those who finance them”.
UNODC also supports ten countries in the sub-Saharan region to improve their frameworks to counter the financing of terrorism and money laundering, including the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Niger and Somalia.
Ms. Waly said that UNODC was also working to strengthen inter-agency coordination between intelligence services, law enforcement, financial intelligence units and prosecutors.
She said conflict zones in Africa were being disproportionately affected by illegal mining and trafficking in precious metals.
“Mineral supply chains are often linked to child abuse, human trafficking, forced labor and other human rights violations.
With 60 percent of the African population under the age of 25, young people are both the future of the continent and its most vulnerable citizens.”
But she said that once empowered, young people can become powerful agents of change: “They can create a better future and defend their name and that of their communities and protect their natural resources.”
Empowering youth Ms. Waly said she was particularly proud of UNODC’s youth-led peacebuilding project, which, in partnership with UNESCO, empowers youth to become “weavers of peace” in the cross-border regions of Gabon, Cameroon and Chad. .
The goal, she said, was to create a network of 1,800 young “peace weavers.”
Enable them to become actors in conflict prevention and peacebuilding in cross-border regions, and identify alternative livelihoods for those living in vulnerable cross-border communities.
Defund the terrorists “UNODC remains fully committed to supporting Africa’s fight against the criminal trade in wildlife and natural resources,” he assured the ambassadors, adding that he welcomed the Council’s commitment, “to the growing concerns that these illicit proceeds are funding terrorist activities.
and armed groups.
She said the UN crime-fighting effort was ready to help all Africans secure their “right to peace, stability, justice and prosperity, for present and future generations.”
Do not leave money for terrorists.
leaving no one behind.”