UN: Drugs linked to Kenya's alarming HIV spread

Drug trafficking and addiction is the cause of alarming spread of HIV/Aids in Kenya, the latest report of the United Nation Security Council has declared.

A statement from the council’s Presidency currently held by Burkina Faso states that Afghan heroin was being imported, causing a dramatic increase in heroin addiction and spreading HIV/Aids in the slums of Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya’s two main cities. 

“In East Africa, 30-35 tons of the two streams of illicit drugs flowing into East and West Africa were now meeting in the Sahara, creating new trafficking routes of unprecedented scale across Chad, Niger and Mali,” Bedouma Alain Yoda, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso, which holds the Council presidency for December, said last week.

The council is concerned about the serious threat posed by drug trafficking to global security, particularly in Africa.

At a meeting on December 8, the Security Council called on the international community to strengthen its cooperation with the United Nations and regional organisations in fighting the scourge.

The Council recognized the anti-drug-trafficking measures undertaken by a range of United Nations bodies, from the General Assembly to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and encouraged them to take further action.

The Council also encouraged states to comply with their obligations to combat drug trafficking, to accede to relevant conventions and to investigate and prosecute those involved.

It invited the Secretary-General to consider integrating the anti-drug-trafficking fight into conflict prevention strategies, conflict analysis and integrated mission assessments, as well as planning and peace-building support.

“Those who run trafficking operations are ruthless and often murderous,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as he helped open a discussion of the problem following the Council’s adoption of the presidential statement.

“We must pursue them and thwart them with the full force of the law and international resolve.” Ban Ki-Moon said.

He said the framework for international cooperation was being built around strong, United Nations-backed legal instruments, with the assistance of UNODC and other organisations. 

However, not all States had become parties to the instruments and they needed to be implemented more effectively.  “So far, cooperation between governments is lagging behind cooperation between organised crime networks,” he said. 

To counter the global threat, States must share more intelligence, carry out more joint operations, build capacity, and provide mutual legal assistance, he stressed.

Briefing the Council after the Secretary-General’s remarks, UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said there were new, worrisome developments concerning drugs in both West and East Africa, as well as across the sub-Saharan land mass. 

He said the continent was facing a severe and complex drug problem -- not only trafficking but also production and consumption.  Serious consequences in terms of health, development and security were inevitable.

He said the recent discovery of laboratories in Guinea showed that West Africa was also becoming a producer of synthetic drugs (amphetamines) and of crystal cocaine refined from pasta basica. 

The council noted that drugs were enriching not only organised crime but also terrorists and other anti-Government forces, he warned. 

“To counter that threat, national capacity must be strengthened and information-sharing among affected countries promoted.  In addition, he urged the creation of a Trans-Saharan Crime Monitoring Network to improve information, monitor suspicious activity, exchange evidence, facilitate legal cooperation and strengthen regional efforts.

Speakers welcomed UNODC’s efforts and called for a greater focus, as well as a more comprehensive framework of international cooperation, for fighting illicit drug trafficking in Africa and around the world. 

Many also described the extent of the problem in their own sub-regions, emphasizing the need not only to reduce supply, but also demand.