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Africa is a large and diverse continent, where a significant part of the population, especially in the Sub-Saharan area, unfortunately lives under conditions of extreme poverty. The low level of development in several regions of the continent is not only due to poverty, but also to lacking healthcare, to limited access to primary education and to ongoing weaknesses in governance and in the rule of law.
These conditions persist in the most vulnerable regions of some countries, regardless of certain significant and fruitful reformist efforts and actions aimed at the development of national governments and international organizations.
According to the UNODC, together with the explicatory and contingent reasons behind the socio-economic and political conditions of several countries, it should be added a high level of criminality– accompanied by large social inequality– rapid urbanization, high rate of unemployment amongst young people, weak judicial system, corruption, uncontrolled proliferation of weapons, social conflicts and civil wars.
These, in particular, have had a primary contribution to the growth of small-scale and organized crime which, in turn, benefit from conditions of instability.
“Organized crime is a key actor in promoting and sustaining humanitarian crises in areas of conflict, as it profits from settings characterised by instability and chaos. For instance, findings from the UNODC indicate that areas of conflict are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking. Many fragile societies are trapped in a vicious circle where organized criminality creates the basis for its growth and countries are weakened in their capacity to fight against it and in their potential to ensure safety and development”.
In this context, organized crime arose as the symptom of deep economic, social, political and cultural hardships– characteristics of some African communities.
Once rooted and developed, organized crime contributed to hinder and slow down development processes, stabilization, transparency and democratisation in many countries in the continent.