The UN has warned of an increase in trafficking of the artificial opioid tramadol throughout West Africa, as one official revealed it’s being discovered within the pockets of suicide bombers.
Seizures of the drug have skyrocketed since 2013, from 300kg (660lb) to greater than three tonnes a yr, the UN’s Workplace on Medicine and Crime (UNODC) mentioned.
In September, three million tablets in UN-logoed bins have been present in Niger.
The opioid is thought to be well-liked with Islamist militants Boko Haram.
The tablets – which could be legally prescribed as painkillers – are thought for use to calm the would-be attackers, with the Guardian beforehand reporting the terrorist group stuff it into dates which they then feed to kids earlier than sending them to their deaths.
Some 600,00 tablets certain for the group have been seized on the Nigeria-Cameroon border in August.
Pierre Lapaque, the UNODC’s West and Central Africa consultant, warned the scenario couldn’t be allowed to “get any additional uncontrolled”, because it continues to undermine international safety.
“Tramadol is often discovered within the pockets of suspects arrested for terrorism within the Sahel, or who’ve dedicated suicidal assault,” Mr Lapaque mentioned.
“This raises the query of who supplies the tablets to fighters from Boko Haram and al-Qaeda, together with younger girls and boys, making ready to commit suicide bombings.”
The UNODC says the abuse of the drug – often smuggled from Asia via the Gulf by felony gangs – is escalating into a serious well being disaster within the Sahel, significantly in northern Mali and Niger, with sub-Saharan Africa’s younger inhabitants probably offering traffickers with a good bigger market.
One girl in northern Mali informed the company she often noticed kids little older than 10 strolling round “after taking or being given tablets of their tea in an effort to assist scale back their feeling of starvation”.
Individuals taking the drug illegally are thought use a dose as much as 5 instances greater than ordinary medical prescriptions, the UNODC added.