UN: Afghanistan Number One
Posted by ajones -- February 26, 2003
Reprinted from Voice of America, UN Report: Afghanistan is World's Largest Opium Producer, by Ayaz Gul.
United Nations-funded anti-narcotics agency says Afghanistan has again
become the world largest producer of opium with a significant upsurge
in 2002. The agency is urging the world community to do more to help
eradicate poppy cultivation in Afghanistan.
its annual report, the International Narcotics Control Board says
official anti-drug efforts failed to stop widespread cultivation of
poppy in Afghanistan, which is used to make illegal opium and its
senior representative of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, Thomas
Zeindl-Cronin, outlined the report at a news conference in neighboring
Pakistan. "About 3,400 tons of opium were produced in Afghanistan in
2002, making Afghanistan again the largest opium producer in the world.
This is an international problem since heroin originating from
Afghanistan is sold in many countries around the world," he says. "Over
three-quarters of the heroin sold in Europe is originating from
cultivation in Afghanistan had significantly dropped until a U.S.-led
military coalition removed the hardline Islamic Taleban regime from
power 15-months ago in its war on terrorism. The Taleban had imposed
extremely harsh punishments on poppy growers - which accounted for the
decline in opium.
officials say poppy cultivation is on the rise again due to the
instability caused by the war - which has overshadowed anti-drug
the fact that the current transitional government of President Hamid
Karzai has banned cultivation, processing, trafficking and consumption
of opiates in the country - U.N. officials say more enforcement is
needed. It advises the government to urgently develop a "comprehensive"
and "coordinated" national drug control policy - in line with
international treaties for the elimination of opium poppy. It also
urges donor countries to provide necessary funds to President Karzai to
beef up the campaign.
problem is having a very negative impact on neighboring Pakistan, where
Mr. Zeindl Cronin says the heroin addiction remains high. "We estimate
that there are about 500,000 chronic heroin users in Pakistan. This is
too many for any country," he says. "We have had considerable success
in the elimination of illicit poppy cultivation [in Pakistan] and good
progress has been made in the interdiction of drug trafficking.
However, I think that much more needs to be done to address the problem
of drug addiction.
was a major producer of opium until a few years ago. The U.N. estimates
that last year, production was just six tons down from a previous
annual output of 800-tons - or more than a 99 percent cut in opium
Zeindl-Cronin says that the smuggling of opiates originating from
Afghanistan through Pakistan and also through Iran remains at a very
high level. Anti-narcotics officials in Pakistan say that their country
is the transit route for 25 percent of heroin smuggled out of