UNO: Afghanistan a Major Opium Producer

The United Nations Drug Control and Crime Prevention Office has claimed that post-Taleban Afghanistan is again a major producer of opium, a substance which is transformed into heroin, in its annual opium survey released on Monday in Rome.

The report states that “the high level of opium cultivation in Afghanistan is not a manifestation of a failure of the Afghan authorities or of the international efforts to assist them in drug control”, according to the DCCP Office Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa. Instead, the report places the blame for the situation on the absence of authority in the country, created by the power vacuum left by the Taleban, which has by no means been filled by the government of Hamid Karzai.

3,400 tonnes of opium is estimated to have been produced this year, the bulk of which will hit the streets of Europe through Turkey and Albanian drugs barons strategically placed along the supply route.

Antonio Maria Costa said that what is needed for the future is an increase in international support “in establishing and developing law enforcement institutions” and providing the local farmers with alternative crops. This year’s production is estimated to be worth around 200 million USD to its Afghan growers, far more than they would receive from conventional crops.

By 1999, Afghan opium production had reached an all-time high, providing around 70% of the world’s heroin supply, which was consumed by two-thirds of all drugs abusers. The Taleban managed to eradicate the culture in 2000.


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