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Foreign Minister Jose Pacheco and the regional representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Zhuldyz AkishevaPhoto: Twitter @UNODC_AIRCOP
The European Union has pledged 3.5 million euros (about 4.4 million US dollars) to strengthen the fight against drug trafficking in Mozambican airports.
An agreement to this effect was signed in Maputo on Friday between Mozambican Foreign Minister Jose Pacheco and the regional representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Zhuldyz Akisheva.
The programme to strengthen the fight against drug trafficking began in 2017, and is due to end in 2019, but may be extended for several more years. UNODC will be the implementing agency for the programme.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Pacheco said the agreement will allow synchronised and effective action “against criminal actions arising from the operations of illicit drug trafficking networks, and other expressions of organised transnational crime”.
Summarising drug seizures, Pacheco said that between 2012 and 2016, 27,000 kilos of cannabis and 5,000 kilos of hashish were seized. However, the amount of hard drugs seized were much smaller – 173 kilos of ephedrine (a chemical precursor in the production of methamphetamine), 98 kilos of cocaine and only five kilos of heroin.
This is a feeble result, given that Mozambique has become a corridor for the transit of illicit drugs. A graphic illustration of this came last Saturday, when police arrested a Zimbabwean at Maputo International Airport in possession of 11 kilos of heroin hidden in the false bottom of her suitcase. This was more than twice the amount of heroin seized in the entire country in the five year period 2012-2016.
Signature of the Letter of Agreement with the Gv't of Mozambique with H.E. Mr. José Pacheco, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation & UNODC Regional Rep for Southern Africa, Ms. Zhuldyz Akisheva, in the presence of Mr. Stergios Varvaroussis, acting Head of the EU Delegation. pic.twitter.com/HJats54KG3
— UNODC AIRCOP (@UNODC_AIRCOP) February 16, 2018
For her part, Akisheva said the fight against drug trafficking requires the involvement of the Mozambican government alongside the other countries of the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region. “Drugs and organised crime are interconnected with all aspects of sustainable development”, she said.
The representative of the European Union at the ceremony, Stergios Varvaroussis, said the traffic in illicit drugs affects both Mozambique and European countries.
“It’s a threat to our citizens”, he said. “Even countries that are only affected by the transit of illicit materials end up with social and health problems that have an impact on development and stability”.
Varvaroussis said the fight against drug trafficking “cannot be dealt with exclusively at a national level, since the criminals operate across borders”.Source: AIM