Terrorism and organized crime are a strong and growing presence across Africa. According to the United Nations, these groups are in part financing themselves by illegally exploiting the natural resources of the regions they occupy. Indeed, Ghada Waly, chief of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime noted there is good evidence that illegal exploitation of precious metals and minerals generates big money for extremists. Wildlife trafficking is also a strong source of income for these groups. Illegal ivory trade alone brings in some four hundred million dollars annually.
To counter these activities, we must focus on three core areas, said U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas Greenfield. “First, in the African context, the presence of al-Qaida and ISIS-linked individuals and groups warrants close monitoring and action.”
“Money continues to be the lifeblood of terrorists. We must bolster our efforts to go after financiers and financial facilitators of terrorists and terrorist organizations. And we must stymie vital resource streams that take advantage of weak regulatory oversight.”
“Secondly, one of the most immediate and growing concerns in Africa is the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group’s strategy of exploiting the natural resources of the Central African Republic, Mali, and Sudan, as well as other countries.”
“These actions are thoroughly documented and irrefutable. And we know these ill-gotten gains are used to fund Moscow’s war machine in Africa, the Middle East, and Ukraine. And rather than being a transparent partner and improving security, Wagner exploits client States who pay for their heavy-handed security services in gold, diamonds, timber, and other natural resources — this is part of Wagner Group’s business model.”
Finally, member States must take a more proactive approach to countering al-Qaida, ISIS, and other criminal groups in Africa. Sanction on regimes that tolerate such activities or even abet them are also integral to combatting the trafficking of natural resources.
“We all have an interest in countering the illicit trafficking of natural resources in Africa, which amounts to stealing wealth away from the people of Africa,” said Ambassador Thomas Greenfield. “It is in our interest to prevent traffickers from using their criminal activities and their illicit wealth to fuel conflict and terrorism. And it in our power to prevent the environmental degradation, use of child labor, displacement of populations, human rights violations and abuses, and loss of government revenue that is a byproduct of illicit trafficking.”