The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released on Wednesday in Vienna its annual report, and identified Africa as an emerging market for drug trafficking and production.
The report was released at a high-level event in Vienna, on the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, where Executive Director of UNODC Yury Fedotov urged “concentrated action” to prevent the manufacture, trafficking and abuse of new psychoactive substances (NPS), according to a statement released by UNODC.
He also said that a key part of tackling the global issue is providing alternative means of livelihood to farmers who cultivate drugs.
The report identified Africa as an emerging market for the trafficking and production of illicit substances, although UNODC admitted scarce data for the region.
While the report noted that NPS production and consumption is less pronounced in Africa, seven African countries, including Egypt, reported the emergence of NPS. The report also said that Egypt had reported the second largest number of cannabis seizures in Africa, coming in after Nigeria.
NPS, described in the report as substances intended to mimic the effects of controlled drugs, are not currently controlled by the Drug Convention.
The report noted no great change in the rate of use of traditional drugs, and even saw the rate decline in some parts of the world. Use of NPS, however, has increased. Although the number of substances under international control which totalled 234, most NPS are legal and can be sold openly.
“The increasing number of NPS appearing on the market has also become a major public health concern, not only because of increasing use but also because of the lack of scientific research and understanding of their adverse effects,” the report said. It also stated that NPS can have deadly consequences.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released a message to commemorate the day saying, “all over the world, drugs threaten the health and welfare of youth and children, families and communities, and the billions of dollars generated by the drugs trade feed corruption, enhance the power of criminal networks and create fear and instability.”
Ban said the problem requires “robust and coordinated law enforcement” and described it as a shared responsibility.