UN warns of surge in drug cultivation in Afghanistan

June 27th, 2008 - 1:04 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 27 (IANS) A surge in illegal drug cultivation in terrorist-occupied areas of Afghanistan last year could undermine the narcotics control worldwide, according to a new UN report on drugs. “Drug money is used as a lubricant for corruption, and a source of terrorist financing. Corrupt officials and terrorists make drug production and trafficking easier,” UN’s anti-narcotics chief Antonio Maria Costa noted in World Drug Report 2008 released Thursday.

“Some of the world’s largest drug producing regions are out of the control of the central government,” said Costa, executive director of UN office on drugs and crime (UNODC).

The findings of the new report are contrary to the past few drug reports that had stressed that global drug problem was being contained in a sense that it had stabilised.

“This year’s report shows that containment is under threat. The report provides evidence of a surge in supply of illicit drugs in 2007. Afghanistan had a record opium harvest in 2007, as a consequence the world’s illegal opium production almost doubled since 2005,” Costa said.

According to the reports, most cultivation took place in five southern provinces of Afghanistan, where Taliban insurgents profit from drugs. The same pattern was also observed in Colombia, where coca cultivation increased by a quarter in 2007.

The report said that Afghanistan accounted for over 92 percent of global opium production while its cultivation increased in Myanmar by 29 percent in 2007.

The UNODC drug report confirms that there has been a systemic shift in major drug routes, particularly for cocaine. Because of steady demand for cocaine in Europe and improved interdiction along traditional routes, drug traffickers have targeted West Africa, according to the report.

“States in Caribbean, Central America and West Africa, as well as the border regions of Mexico, are caught in the cross-fire between the world’s biggest cocoa producers (the Andean countries) and biggest consumers (North America and Europe),” Costa warned.

“Drugs money corrupts governments, and even turns into terrorist financing. Promotion of the rule of law is the best way to fight the drug trade,” he added.

The report showed that less than one in every twenty people (age 15-64) has tried drugs at least once in past 12 months. Problem drug users, who are severe drug dependent, are less than one-tenth of this already low percentage: 26 million people, about 0.6 percent of the planet’s adult population.

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