13 November 2014

UNODC: the Afghan narcotics problem remains a major global challenge and shared responsibility

On 12 November 2014, the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released the 2014 Afghanistan Opium Survey. According to the survey, in 2014, opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has increased by 7 percent to 224.000 hectares, with production levels potentially climbing to as much as 17 percent. Figures also show that, due to the unfavourable security situation, attempts to eradicate crops have decreased by a whapping 63 percent.

NPR reports that the UNODC and other experts point to the fact that opium cultivation in Afghanistan is driven mostly by domestic speculation: as Afghans become more uncertain or fearful about the future, the more they hedge by growing opium. These sources show that due to the growing uncertainty in the past few years, brought about by the drawdown of NATO troops and the presidential election, more people turned to speculating on opium.

The New York Times has made a grim prediction, deeming it unlikely that the new and fragile Afghan government will soon produce better results on poppy eradication than the United States and its allies, the former of which has already invested USD 7.6 billion into combating Afghanistan’s opium production.

At the Vienna launch of the report, the Executive Director of the UNODC, Yury Fedotov, warned that the narcotics problem in Afghanistan remains a major global challenge and shared responsibility adding that: ‘We cannot afford to see the long-term stability of Afghanistan -and the wider region- derailed by the threat of opiates. What is needed is greater resolve towards addressing narcotics in a serious and tangible manner with the economic, development and security agendas.’

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Source: UN News Centre | Opium harvest in Afghanistan hits new high in 2014 – UN
Source: NPR | Afghanistan's Opium Harvest Sets New Record
Source: The New York Times | Afghanistan’s Unending Addiction

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