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UN Anti-drugs Office Report Finds Southeast Asia's Recent Gains Against Opium Trade Are Threatened

UN Office on Drugs and Crime to launch report at FCCT on Monday, 2 February


Opium Poppy Cultivation in South East Asia: Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand (2008) UNODC-UN/ESCAP Information Services (Bangkok), 26 january 2009 - Southeast Asia's progress in reducing opium production is under threat, with an extensive new survey by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) revealing a recent upswing in opium cultivation during the 2008 growing season.

Southeast Asia's opium poppy reduction successes have been built upon decades of successful alternative development work in rural communities. Milestones during the previous decade have been the elimination of opium production in Vietnam (2000) and Thailand (2003). In 2005, Lao PDR was declared opium-free. Until recently, Myanmar had also witnessed a continuous decline of opium production.

However, as a result of a loss of opium-generated income, families which used to grow opium are now facing difficult living conditions - often with widespread food shortages for several months of the year. With high levels of poverty, the recent rapid increase in the price of raw opium and an absence of effective law enforcement, there is a high risk of a return to opium poppy cultivation in these communities of Southeast Asia, which still represent 15% of global illicit poppy cultivation.

To present the findings of the survey "Opium Poppy Cultivation in South East Asia" - which has been carried out in coordination with the governments of Lao PDR, Myanmar and Thailand - UNODC will hold a press conference next Monday, with the UNODC Representatives of the Regional Centre for East Asia and the Pacific and the Country Office in Lao PDR, Gary Lewis and Leik Boonwaat, on-hand to answer questions.

Members of the media are invited to attend the press conference at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, 2 February, at:

The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT)
Penthouse, Maneeya Center
518/5 Ploenchit Road (connected to the BTS Skytrain Chitlom station)
Patumwan, Bangkok, 10330

A limited number of hard copies of the report will be available to press conference participants. Advance registration is appreciated.

For more information, or to register for the event, please contact:

Ms. Ajarie Salilasiri
UN Office on Drugs and Crime - Bangkok
Tel: (66) 2 288 2083
Fax: (66) 2 281 2129