Key Judgements

  • While networks operate across the entire West Africa, Guinea Bissau represents the regional hub and transit zone for drug exports shipped from Latin America to Europe. As part of this network, West Africa suffers the most.
  • There are currently 12 countries in Africa experiencing armed conflict which led to the displacement of 25 million people. They are particularly vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation. Most African victims are trafficked into forced labor, often in fields such as agriculture, domestic service, and manufacturing.
  • Amid UNICEF programs and ECOWAS strategies implemented in the region, child trafficking is still very common in countries like Nigeria, Benin, Togo or Burkina Faso. More than 50 percent of trafficking victims in West Africa are children.

Reconstructed Scenario

Drug and human trafficking represent major security issue concerning the West African states. Although organised crime reaches high levels in the region for around 2 decades now, more recently drug exports broke the record with 1.6 tons of cocaine being seized in Guinea Bissau in September 2019. At the same time, human trafficking in West Africa involves mainly children and women and 99% of victims detected in West Africa are trafficked within their own country or region.

Cocaine and methamphetamine count for most of the profits made through drug trafficking in West Africa. However, cocaine is being sold in record quantities with at least 50 tons coming from South America. Apart from these two, a new product is becoming more and more popular on the African drug markets: opioids.Large quantities of tramadol were collected by local police forces and Interpol in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Niger, Nigeria, and Togo between September 2018 and May 2019. According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), opioids are mainly consumed in Nigeria, where around 14% of the population abuses drugs (more than twice the global average).