Antonio Costa, Executive Director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime:”I could see a growing presence of foreign organized crime elements in Yemen” [Archives:2007/1016/Front Page]

January 15 2007

Raidan Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf
SANA'A, Jan. 13 )During his recent brief visit to Yemen at the invitation of Yemen's Ministry of Interior, Antonio Maria Costa, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, visited many parts of the country and discussed the security situation with Yemeni authorities, as well as with other U.N. bodies operating in Yemen.

Costa had an overall positive experience visiting Yemen and was impressed by Yemeni authorities' determination to ensure and maintain national security. However, achieving this goal requires far more efforts and resources than currently available, especially considering regional instability and risks from organized crime and terrorism, from which Yemen has suffered severely.

The U.N. official specifically noted that Yemen's security forces need all the help they can get in order to maintain national security and safety, especially in light of regional developments in organized crime. He also indicated that such organized crime groups are searching for weaknesses in the security system in order to enter the country, especially as security forces still are unable to maintain full control over all Yemeni territories.

He also expressed the U.N. office's desire to help Yemen by providing resources, as well as technical and training support; however, Yemen first must endorse and ratify international conventions regarding organized crime and corruption in order to maximize support from the international body.

Costa also surmised that homegrown organized crime is highly unlikely despite easy access to weapons and economic hardships; however, he emphasized that foreign elements might easily infiltrate the fabric of Yemeni society and plant seeds for organized crime, terrorism and insurgencies if authorities don't prepare for such potential risks.

He also praised the current anti-terrorism strategy and the Ministry of Interior's counterterrorism department for their efforts, which have increased stability and security considerably since 2002 via continuous development. Costa also discussed the economic consequences of increasing trade, investment and tourism, which correlates with security forces' efforts to stabilize the nation.

The Yemen Times met with Costa and asked him about his visit to Yemen, the security situation in Yemen and its national, regional and sociopolitical impacts.

See Report Page for the full interview.