Drug use on the rise in Kenya

2015-03-05 14:26

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Nairobi - Drug use in Kenya has risen fast in the past few years, according to religious leaders, politicians and charities working to tackle the problem.

They say domestic use has soared as international drug cartels have turned east Africa into a major transit route for narcotics from Afghanistan. Some of the drugs spill onto the local market, they say.

Juma Ngao, a director at Kenya's National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) said the Indian Ocean port towns of Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu have been hardest hit because most drug shipments come by sea.

"There is an easy market for drugs on the coast," said Phylis Mwema, who runs a youth rehabilitation organisation in Mombasa. "Youth are uneducated, idle and jobless, and the only thing they can do is drugs."

The problem has become a political issue, with many Kenyans concerned it will fuel the region's rising crime and poor security. A spate of Islamist attacks on bars, non-Muslims and other targets has already dented the coastal region's tourism industry.

 The growing drug problem could further harm an area best known for sun and sand. Yet with Mombasa's police and some politicians often accused of corruption and involvement in the drugs trade, many Kenyans are despondent about the country's prospects of kicking its new addiction.

Read more on:    kenya  |  east africa  |  narcotics

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