Latest World News

Dakar, a new target for drug traffickers in West Africa


“Do you have a syringe for me?” », launches in a slender voice a skinny grandmother. She stretches out her long, skinny arms and grabs a kit from the hands of a social mediator: disinfectant wipes and a packaged syringe, for those days when the call for heroin will be too strong. For seven years, the woman with tattooed lips has been treating her addiction to white powder, which she snorted, and to crack. Like nearly 300 other injection drug users, she is undergoing treatment with methadone, an opiate substitute, at the Center for Integrated Addiction Management (Cepiad) in Dakar.

Two members of the nursing staff speak to a patient from a treatment room at the Center for Integrated Addiction Management in Dakar, March 20, 2023.

Lost in the heart of the labyrinthine Fann hospital, in the capital of Senegal, the public establishment – ​​the first of its kind in West Africa – welcomes fifteen men and two women in their fifties on this winter morning. They arrive in silence through a back door, away from prying eyes. In a country where even the consumption of tobacco is worthy of strong social reprobation, the structure offers them a space of salutary respite. Here, we carry on, we call out to each other and we heckle when a dose of methadone stealthily vanishes during discussion groups.

Led by two mediators, themselves former users, these talks liberate and inform. “When a comrade suddenly takes a nose dive or has difficulty breathing, stay with him and call for help! He’s overdosed. And never consume your cam alone! », throws, in Wolof, a big stick with a marked face, busy practicing the lateral safety position on a volunteer lying on the ground. The novice instructor was trained a few days earlier during a workshop, he takes his mission of sharing information very seriously and does not hesitate to rebuff the most dissipated.

Support group at the Center for Integrated Addiction Management in Dakar, March 20, 2023.

Among them, an architect, a retired university professor, a renowned musician and a few taxi drivers. Their bets are elegant, neat. “Who could imagine that I am an ex-drug user? », laughs almost a 64-year-old former management teacher, gray jacket over pleated trousers, suede moccasins. Yet he walked for two decades with heroin and cocaine. The first time was during his years in Paris. In 1983, the student from Dakar, an occasional cannabis smoker, hangs out in the squats of the 19e arrondissement. “One day, while going to get some weed, some friends offered me hero. I started by snorting it, then I moved on to injecting and dealing”, he relates in a professorial tone. The former dealer remains in detention for three years in Fleury-Mérogis (Essonne) for drug trafficking, before being expelled.

You have 76.7% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.