THE Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission has reaffirmed the commission’s commitment to carryout action plans against drug trafficking and related crimes in West African sub-region.
Commissioner, Social Affairs and Gender of ECOWAS Commission Dr Siga Fatima Jagne, who was represented by Mr Mohammed Ibrahim, Head of ECOWAS Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Risk Destruction, said this at the Project Steering and Coordination Committee (PSCC), 7th meeting of ECOWAS in Abuja.
The meeting is on a European Union (EU) funded project; entitled, “Support to ECOWAS regional action plan on illicit drug trafficking, related organised crime and drug Abuse.”
The meeting was organised by ECOWAS in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the EU.
Jagne described the meeting as particularly important to ECOWAS, adding that it was probably the last PSCC gathering for the EU project.
She said: “It provides an opportunity to take stock of the achievements made, challenges being faced and additional efforts required to stem the tide against drug abuse, illicit trafficking and related crimes.
“ECOWAS remains committed to building on what we have achieved so far and it is also encouraging to note that the commission and UNODC have been implementing the project.
“I encourage this effort and urge UNODC to continue to foster this good relationship, even after this particular project.
“I want to assure you that ECOWAS is very committed and would continue to do its best with all member states and partners to effectively fulfill its role in this important task,“ she said.
The commissioner hailed the EU for its financial support on the project and UNODC, as technical partner toward the implementation of the project action plan.
The commissioner said the ECOWAS received 90 per cent of the grant money amounting 2,929,363 Euros, adding that out of the sum, 2, 455,557 Euros, representing 84 per cent, was spent on project activities.
She said the remaining 16 per cent approximately (380, 000 Euros), had been earmarked for auditing and other activities till the end of the project on Nov. 16, 2019.
Jagne said the creation of ECOWAS drug newsletter on www.edup.ecowas.int web portal and a regional information sharing platforms were among other things achieved in terms of implementing the project.
Speaking, the Head of Co-operation of EU, Mr Kurt Cornelis, promised to ensure that the project is sustained to achieve targets.
He, however, expressed concern over transnational border crime and called for collaboration of UNODC and ECOWAS to tackle the problem.
According to him, the fight against transnational organised crime remains a priority and of mutual interest for Africa and EU.
“The EU welcomes the ongoing reflection on draft ‘supplementary Act’ which could represent a renewed commitment of ECOWAS member states on prevention and control of illicit drugs trafficking and organised crime.
“We have a common and shared responsibility to implement evidence-based policies that can make a significant improvement. It requires a long-term multidisciplinary approach.
“We all need to strengthen our actions at national, regional and international levels to accelerate the implementation of our joint commitments to encounter and address the world drug problem,” Cornelis said.
Meanwhile, the UNODC Country Representative, Mr Oliver Stolpe, said the organisation needed more efforts to proffer lasting solution to drug trafficking and crime in the sub-region.
He expressed optimism that the discussion between ECOWAS, UNODC, EU and other development partners would pave way for strategic thinking around the issue of transnational organised crime and drug trafficking in West Africa.
Stolpe said, “This is not the end of the road only the closing of a chapter and the opening of a new one.
“UNODC will remain at the service of ECOWAS member states in the implementation of their respective National Drug Control Master Plans to address the multiple threats posed by illicit drugs trafficking.”