AU calls for help in ridding drug trafficking

The African Union has urged rich nations to help it fight a rise in drug trafficking in West Africa...

Goods seized during a massive drugs bust at Durban Harbour. Picture: Narissa Subramoney/Eyewitness News

The African Union has urged rich nations to help it fight a rise in drug trafficking in <?xml:namespace prefix="st1" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags"?><place w:st="on">West Africa that it said was threatening peace and security across the region.<?xml:namespace prefix="o" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office"?>

AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping told an African summit in <country-region w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Ethiopia</country-region> that the crime wave was rapidly growing.

"I would like to make an urgent appeal to the international community for it to boost its support to the efforts made by the region’s countries to identify and implement a set of measures that would stop and eliminate this hazard."

United Nations anti-narcotics experts said parts of West Africa were 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 <place w:st="on">Europe.

Experts said the criminal trade was undermining the region’s democratic governments and distorting its more vulnerable economies, which were mostly dependent on raw material exports.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon told the summit that drug trafficking was becoming a major challenge to security and governance in <place w:st="on">West Africa.

"We are working closely with the Economic Community of West African States to roll back this dangerous phenomenon but these efforts have only just begun."