Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 08/2014

An assessment of crime related risks in the Sahel

Laurence Ammour

November 2009

NATO Defense College


The Sahel, a vast belt of land covering nine million square kilometers and encompassing ten countries, has always been a transit area for constant flows of people, trade, finance and religious groups. For the past twenty years, organized crime has had ample opportunity to develop here, either by using traditional networks or by taking over areas where there is no state control. It is also a region afflicted by perennial crises and weakened states, notwithstanding its undeniable strategic importance arising from its natural resources: oil, gold, phosphates, diamonds, copper, iron, coal, nickel, zinc, bauxite, uranium, plutonium, manganese, cobalt, silver, chrome and precious timbers.