27 July 2006

UNODC, NATO-Russia Council Strengthen Law Enforcement in Central Asia and Afghanistan

VIENNA, 27 July (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the NATO-Russia Council have agreed to cooperate in training law enforcement officers in  Central Asia and Afghanistan in fighting the narcotics trade. 

Afghanistan produces almost all of the world's heroin and around one fifth of its output is smuggled to Russia and elsewhere in Europe through the five Central Asian republics.  The lengthy, rugged and porous borders between Central Asia and Afghanistan are easily exploited by traffickers and provide a major challenge for police and customs.

"Central Asia is a crucial front in the fight against narcotics trafficking," said UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa. "The illicit drugs that come across these borders devastate the lives of countless individuals throughout the world. They increase the incidence of HIV/AIDS and fund organized crime. Strengthening security along Central Asian borders is in all of our interests."

Under this first cooperation agreement between UNODC and the NATO-Russia Council, mobile training teams from NATO countries and Russia will visit Afghanistan and its five Central Asian neighbours, providing specialist training to local counter-narcotics forces which will supplement training in permanent facilities provided by the Governments of Russia and Turkey.

UNODC will act as executing agency for the US$927,000 project, which was launched by Foreign Ministers of the NATO-Russia Council in December 2005. UNODC will assist experts from NATO countries and Russia in developing the training programmes and provide logistical support. 

The NATO-Russia Council was established in May 2002.

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For information contact:

Richard Murphy
Spokesman, UNODC
Telephone: +43 1 260 60 5761
E-mail: richard.murphy@unodc.org