UN DRUG CONTROL OFFICE HELPS AFGHANISTAN
VIENNA, 11 July (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP) is helping Afghanistan to break a decade-long dependence on opium poppy cultivation. In close coordination with the country’s transitional government and with the overall UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, ODCCP is implementing a broad range of projects aimed at strengthening Afghanistan’s drug control and crime prevention capacity. A Progess Report on ten of the projects was presented at a meeting in Geneva today.
"The United Nations, and the international community in general, have been very generous. However, ultimately Afghan society needs to build its own institutions in order to beat the evil of drugs, crime and terror," Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of ODCCP, said. At today’s meeting of the Afghanistan Support Group in Geneva, attended by Lakhdar Brahimi, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Ashraf Ghani, Minister of Finance of Afghanistan, and donor countries, Mr. Costa presented a Progress Report on actions undertaken so far, and future initiatives in addressing the drug problem in Afghanistan. In 1999, the country was the source of 70 percent of global production of opiates, equivalent to over 450 tonnes of heroin. This year’s production could be as high as 200-250 tonnes.
In Afghanistan, the UN Drug Control Programme is engaged in a wide spectrum of anti-drug activities. These include monitoring of illegal crops, with ODCCP’s Opium Poppy Survey being the world’s most reliable estimate of the extent of narcotics cultivation in Afghanistan. The Report also highlights projects to help the government establish a judicial framework consistent with international law and to set up effective drug control and law enforcement agencies. Growing drug abuse in Afghanistan is emerging as a new problem: for this reason, projects for demand reduction and narcotics prevention have been developed.
"Most importantly, farmers need to be helped to break the dependency on illegal crops. Therefore, the UN has adopted a long-term approach aimed at offering Afghan farmers sustainable agricultural alternatives to drug cultivation," Mr. Costa said.
ODCCP also works with other international partners, assisting them to include the drug control element in their reconstruction and development projects. Similar initiatives have been undertaken in Iran, Pakistan and Central Asian countries.
"Afghanistan’s drug problem affects the entire region. We are working with all of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries, to develop joint measures," Mr. Costa said.
ODCCP reopened its Kabul office in February. Its staff includes programme officers and specialists running a broad range of projects. In addition, about 100 people are engaged in monitoring opium poppy cultivation.
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