UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Progress on security and government reforms in West Africa could unravel because of growing corruption and soaring food prices, according to U.N. officials.
Said Djinnit, U.N. special representative to the 15-nation West Africa region, told the U.N. Security Council Wednesday that despite recent progress made by countries in West Africa, escalating crises in the region could undermine stability.
Djinnit cited several root concerns including corruption, a growing youth unemployment problem and the food crisis, coupled with the worldwide economic meltdown. Djinnit said ongoing domestic issues, along with the rise in transnational groups trafficking illicit narcotics through the region, could threaten any positive gains made in West Africa, the United Nations reported.
"Many of the root causes of conflict in a number of West African countries have yet to be addressed in an effective and durable manner," Djinnit said in a statement.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a report released Monday called on leaders in West Africa to increase collaboration between countries in the region and international organizations to avoid the threat of widespread instability.