In Togo, young people are dying and city becomes “drug hub”
A recent report on drug use by young people in Togo is of concern to civil society. In this coastal country on the Gulf of Guinea, which has acquired a reputation as a drug hub, the government seems committed to developing a real response to combat this scourge.
In Togo, the results of a recent survey showing high levels of illicit substance use among young people are a source of great concern and confirm Lomé’s new reputation as a drug hub.
Conducted by the NGO Alliance Nationale des Consommateurs et de L’environnement (ANCE) and made public on 25 June, the study shows that out of a sample of 500 young people, nearly 18% take three types of drugs – tramadol, cocaine, and cannabis. The NGO is sounding the alarm and calling for a collective awareness of this scourge.
“We didn’t think the phenomenon would be so serious. While several organizations are on other fronts for these young people, the survey allows us to see that they are sinking into drugs. Everyone must be aware of this and act now,” says Dr. Fortune Akpéné Bebewou, head of the Health Programme at ANCE.
This trend among young people, mainly middle and high school students aged between 12 and 24, is commented on by Togolese civil society organizations as further proof that “Lomé is a drug hub”.
“From our investigations, we know that all of these substances are not locally produced. They all come from outside and are then intended for export to several countries, including some European. This, unfortunately, confirms that Togo is a drug hub,” says Gabriel Sassouvi Dosseh-Anyron, president of Vie libre et positive, a Togolese NGO specializing in the fight for a world free of psychoactive substances.
On 28 December 2019, the Uruguayan authorities announced the seizure of 4.4 tonnes of cocaine destined for the autonomous port of Lomé, further proof that the drug marketing circuit passes through Togo. Dosseh-Anyron claims that some of these substances are sold to young Togolese in impoverished neighborhoods up to 15 times cheaper than their selling prices in Europe.
Togo even intends to reinforce the response with “a strategic framework, accompanied by an action plan”, which it adopted at the beginning of 2020. The plan provides for specific sectoral strategies to “fight against illicit drug trafficking, prevent the ‘use of substances, treating drug dependence and the associated health and social consequences’, according to Yark Damehame, Togolese Minister for Security and Civil Protection who spoke on 26 June to the press on the occasion of World Day of the fight against drugs.
More specifically, the Togolese executive will focus on raising awareness, strengthening border controls, and cracking down on traffickers.