Mammoth rise in drug abuse among Maldives youths: UN

March 5th, 2008 - 7:51 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) In the past three years the percentage of injecting drug abusers in Maldives has increased from eight percent to 23 percent, involving 20 percent of men below the age of 20, says a UN report released here Wednesday. “The percentage of Maldivian drug abusers who have injected drugs increased from 8 percent in 2003 to 29 percent in 2006,” a report prepared by International Narcotics Control Board said.

According to the Maldives-European Community Strategy Paper 2007-2013, drug abuse has become a serious problem in the country where three quarters of the prison inmates are serving sentences for drug abuse or trafficking.

Unemployed young people are the group most vulnerable to drug abuse.

In Maldives and all over South Asia, the abuse of heroin and pharmaceutical preparations by injection was among the main factors contributing to the spread of HIV/AIDS infection, the report said.

It said that in India the northeastern states were most affected by drug related HIV/AIDS infections especially in large urban areas and those bordering Myanmar. “In these areas, there is an extremely high incidence of HIV/AIDS among the population.”

According to the report the HIV/AIDS situation analysis done in Maldives revealed rising levels of drug abuse and addiction.

“Of the persons who abuse drugs in that country, 20-25 percent abuse drugs by injection. Of the persons who abuse drugs by injection in Maldives, the majority (90 percent) are male and about 20 per cent are less than 20 years of age,” the report noted.

The report said that drug abuse has spread to rural areas in Bangladesh where the increasing problem was of abusing pharmaceuticals, such as codeine-based cough syrups.

These syrups are diverted from the legal market in India and smuggled into Bangladesh. India’s porous borders with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal contribute to the smuggling, the report said.

According to research conducted in Sri Lanka in 2006, people from rural areas seeking jobs in the cities are vulnerable to drug abuse.

“In 2006, at least 12,551 drugs-related arrests took place in Sri Lanka, showing an increase of six percent; most of those arrested in the western province of the country were aged 30 or younger,” the report said.

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