ECOWAS commits to border security

APA-Abuja (Nigeria)

ECOWAS Commission says it will continue to prioritise investment in border security to promote sustainable peace as well as tackle drug trafficking in the region.

Mr Mohammed Ibrahim, Head of ECOWAS  Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Risk Destruction spoke in Abuja on  Thursday on the sidelines of the ECOWAS meeting on European Union  (EU)-funded projects, tagged, ”Support to ECOWAS regional  action plan on illicit drug trafficking, related organised crime and  drug Abuse”.

“ECOWAS as a regional institution is  taking the issue of border porosity as a priority because we believe  peace and security work hand in hand.

“If you do not have peace, if you have  threat to peace, it is going to hinder development of the sub-region in  terms of trade, even free movement of people.

“If you do not tackle the issue of peace  and security, it will be dangerous to the socio-economic development of  the West African region,’’ he said.

He said that porosity in the region  borders contributed to the flow of drug trafficking, which according to  him, poses huge challenges for ECOWAS as the regional institution with  the mandate to curb such.

According to him, ECOWAS, the European  Union, an the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will work  closely to tackle drug trafficking.

“We are working comprehensively to be  able to curb this menace; we are still looking forward to sustain what  we have already started and maintain the pace,” he added.

Also speaking with NAN, Mr Kurt Cornelis,  EU’s Head of Co-operation, said that ECOWAS and the European Union had  agreed to tackle illicit drug trafficking in the sub-region considering  the security and health problems it posed.

Cornelis said, “I think the first  responsibility is with the region represented by ECOWAS as an  organisation; it is necessary EU considers whether it will support the  project again.

“At the moment, we have used all the resources that we have available until 2020.

”Everything has been contracted. So, we  now have to look at the period after 2020 for what we need to do as  programming exercise, which will start early next year.

“After slow start of the programme we  recorded considerable progress, especially in the last couple of years,  in terms of dealing with issue of drug trafficking, but the challenge is  overwhelming.”

He, however, urged the military, law  enforcement agencies, the political class, civil society organisations,  and other stakeholders to support the fight against drug trafficking.


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