The threat of terrorism and organized crime is becoming increasingly entrenched across Africa, the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) told the UN Security Council last week.
UNODC executive director Ghada Waly has warned that illegal trafficking is depriving millions of a decent livelihood. She said there were around 3,500 victims of terrorist acts in Sub-Saharan Africa last year, nearly half of those recorded worldwide.
According to UNODC, the vast Sahel region in particular has become home to some of the most active and deadly terrorist groups. Illegal exploitation of precious metals and minerals, such as gold, silver and diamonds, is believed to be fueling the extremists with significant sources of income.
“We have established that illegally mined gold and other precious metals are being fed into the legitimate market, providing huge profits for traffickers,” said Waly.
Wildlife trafficking has also been reported as a possible source of funding for militias, she added, with the illegal trade in ivory alone generating $400mn in illicit income each year.
According to Waly, almost 500mn Africans were living in extreme poverty last year. The climate emergency and the COVID-19 pandemic have also wreaked havoc on already fragile economies across Africa.
UNODC also supports ten countries across the Sub-Saharan region to improve their frameworks to counter terrorist financing and money laundering, including the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Niger, and Somalia.
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