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AFGHANISTAN: New report urges stronger action to stop drugs trade

Photo: UNAMA

Afghan officials say the international community should help them tackle Afghanistan's narcotics problem

KABUL, 5 March 2008 (IRIN) - The government of Afghanistan and neighbouring states must join forces to stop the smuggling of precursor chemicals, particularly acetic anhydride, to Afghanistan where they are used in the illicit manufacture of heroin and morphine, the International Narcotics Control Broad (INCB) said in its annual report on 5 March.

"Afghanistan has no legitimate need for the chemical [acetic anhydride]," said the report, noting that drug traffickers continued to smuggle the chemical across Asian borders to heroin manufacturers in Afghanistan.

"Seizure of the substance in Afghanistan, as well as in the countries bordering Afghanistan, has remained negligible and little is known about the sources, methods and outlets used to divert the substance," the report said.

Afghanistan's Ministry of Counter-Narcotics (MCN) said it was committed to eradicating illicit drugs production and smuggling.

"We will undertake every effort to stop traffickers smuggling acetic anhydride and other chemicals used for heroin production in Afghanistan," said Zalmai Afzali, a spokesman of MCN in Kabul, and he urged donors to help build and strengthen Afghan institutions to effectively tackle the problem.

"The UN should not expect or pressure us to do what the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] is doing in the USA," Afzali told IRIN, pointing out the weak law enforcing capacity of the Afghan government.

The use, trade and export of acetic anhydride is controlled by the UN Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotics, Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988.

Biggest producer of opiates

Photo: Ebadi/IRIN

UNDOC says Afghanistan produced 8,200 tones of opium in 2007, accounting for 93 percent of the global illicit market for opiates

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said Afghanistan was the top producer of illicit drugs in the world, producing about 8,200 tonnes of opium in 2007, and accounting for 93 percent of the global illicit market for opiates.

A UNODC preliminary survey in February indicated that overall opium poppy cultivation was likely to decrease slightly in 2008. However, 22 of the country's 34 provinces will still produce over 90 percent of the world's illicit drugs, UNODC said.

Opium poppy cultivation is considered a major lifeline for millions of Afghans and total gross revenues from the illegal drug trade in Afghanistan are equivalent to over half of the country's gross domestic product, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank said in two separate reports in February.


The illicit drug money - which surpassed US$4 billion in 2007 - also fuels organised crime, corruption, insurgency, "terrorism" and other scourges, the UN and the Afghan government say.

Moreover, drug abuse is another growing problem in Afghanistan due to the abundance of opiates, heroin and hasheesh.

The INCB report also highlighted links between intravenous drug abuse and the spread of HIV/AIDS in South Asia, including Afghanistan. According to the World Bank, 245 HIV-positive cases have been reported so far, though UNAIDS (the joint UN programme on HIV/AIDS) and the World Health Organization estimate that there could be between 1,000 and 2,000 Afghans living with HIV.

The above article comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2008

... Payvand News - 03/07/08 ... --

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