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Fighting Crime Could Boost Development In Africa

Fighting Crime Could Boost Development In Africa, UN Study Says

New York, Jun 23 2005 3:00PM

Crime in Africa is driving business away, eroding human, economic and social capital and undermining development, according to a study launched today by the United Nations anti-crime organization, drawing for the first time a comprehensive picture of criminal activities on the continent along with its global impact and possible remedies.

Despite the troubling data, the study concludes that African countries can declare victory over crime and violence if the political will exists and resources are made available to translate policy into real-world change.

Entitled "Crime and Development in Africa," the study was unveil ed by Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

According to UNODC, all available indicators suggest that the continent has a serious crime problem, including both violent and property crime, much of it committed by transnational organizations. In addition to hampering development, such activities are increasingly becoming a source of funding for insurgent and terrorist groups.

The data presented in the study covers domestic and global criminal activities ranging from money-laundering to corruption and trafficking in human beings, drugs, and firearms, as well as the connection between such activities and the scourge of child militias.

While in the past the only drugs widespread in Africa were cannabis and khat, the study says, the continent has recently become a transit area for cocaine and heroine. In addition, 89 per cent of African countries are involved in some way in human trafficking. Theft and smuggling of minerals, petroleum and wildlife have also become endemic.

There is presently great momentum, however, to tackle all of Africa's development problems, the study says, and there are signs of progress on many fronts, including the creation of a legislative and institutional framework to fight crime. The time is ripe, it concludes, to remove this important barrier to African development.


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