Africa steps up calls for help to beat crime
New York -Togo's president on Tuesday led African calls at the UN Security Council for greater action to counter crime syndicates and terrorism in West Africa which he said threatens governments.
President Faure Gnassingbe called for an international group to be set up to combat narcotics trafficking, piracy and other crimes in West Africa, similar to one created to organise the battle against pirates off Somalia.
Gnassingbe highlighted recent conflict and unrest in Ivory Coast, Libya and other nations and told the 15-member council that militant and rebel groups, pirates and drugs and weapons traffickers were stepping up their activity.
He said "these threats undermine the foundations of states" in West Africa, a warning taken up by the African Union.
"Failure to address these threats comprehensively, effectively and collectively, puts at risk the very foundations of viable democratic states in Africa," African Union envoy Francisco Caetano Madeira told the meeting.
Gnassingbe called for an "international contact group" on transnational crime in West Africa and the Sahel region.
He proposed that it be based on the 45 nation group set up in January 2009 to patrol international waters off the Somalia coast to combat pirates.
"Our states need more aid, material or financial, to confront the numerous challenges posed by the drug traffickers and heavily armed criminal groups which ravage our regions," the Togo leader said.
According to UN estimates, about 50 tons of mainly South American cocaine with a street value of about $1 billion dollars is trafficked through West Africa each year.
Piracy off the coast of West Africa is growing and Mali, Niger and other countries in the region are combating insurgencies as well as al-Qaeda linked groups and a growing food crisis.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reaffirmed calls for a summit of countries affected by the new piracy threat to develop a tougher security strategy.