Women and young people, first victims of security threats in West Africa
The 3rd thematic exchange of the Women, Youth, Peace and Security Working Group in West and Sahel (WYPSWG-WAS), was organized in Dakar on 29 June 2017, under the theme: "The impact of the transnational organized crime, drug and human trafficking on women and youth."
"Organized crime in West Africa has reached a new peak in the past decade. Studies show that transnational organized crime has risen to the level of a substantial security threat in West Africa and the Sahel region, "said Charles Anyidoho, Chief of Staff of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) at the opening of the meeting. Representatives of women's organizations, youth organizations, civil society and United Nations organizations in Senegal and other countries in the region (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Nigeria, Chad and Togo) participated in the exchanges by videoconference.
From piracy in the Gulf of Guinea to illegal extraction of natural resources, cybercrime, drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings, money laundering, illegal smuggling, Transnational criminal activities in the region are diverse and are one of the most complex challenges. In the Sahel, the steady increase in activities related to terrorism, violent extremism and organized crime prompted the development of a United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS) in 2013.
According to Colonel Alimamy Kamara, UNOWAS Military Adviser, trafficking in persons is one of the main transnational crimes organized in West Africa and the Sahel. He cited poverty, lack of employment opportunity and armed conflict as the main causes of organized crime and, more specifically, human trafficking. The representatives of Cabo Verde, Nigeria and Senegal gave a brief presentation of the situation in their country. It has emerged that the stability, peace and security of the region are undermined by this scourge.
Transnational organized crime also has a definite negative impact on women and young people who are the first victims of security threats, drug trafficking and human beings. According to the Women's Platform for Peace in Casamance, drug and arms trafficking in Casamance from Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and The Gambia contributes to exacerbate the conflict in this area and has negative consequences on young people and women. Regarding the security crisis in the Lake Chad Basin, women and children are particularly targeted by violence, Colonel Kamara said. "They are abducted, enforced into forced marriage, used as sexual slaves or as suicide bombers," he said.