04 Jul 2022

The microbes of Abidjan

Prioritising public investment in areas where these violent youth gangs live is key to reducing the poverty that spawns the groups.

Born in the chaotic days after the disputed election of 2010, violent youth gangs, dubbed microbes by the local population, terrorised the streets of the poorest areas of Côte d’Ivoire’s capital. Marginalised and deprived of hope, these microbes are easy prey for the vié pères who run the criminal economy of the city, especially its drug markets. They are also used by politicians to intimidate opposition supporters. Attempts to reintegrate them into society have been few and largely unsuccessful. Although the microbe phenomenon appears to be declining, its extent is still worrying and helps to shape Abidjan’s urban illicit markets.

About the author

Sébastien Hervieu, a French journalist and analyst based in Abidjan, works for GI-TOC on organised criminality in Côte d’Ivoire. Previously based in Johannesburg, he wrote for Le Monde on political, economic and security issues in Southern Africa.

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