International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking commemorated in Sasolburg
Sasolburg - June 26 is the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Every year, since it was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1987, this day serves as a reminder of the goals agreed to by Member States of creating an international society free of drug abuse.
In his message on this occasion, the Secretary General of the UN, Ban ki-Moon highlighted this year's Theme:
Global Action for Healthy Communities without Drugs
He emphasized that:
"governments have a responsibility to counteract both drug trafficking and drug abuse, but communities can also make a major contribution. Families, schools, civil society and religious organizations can do their part to rid their communities of drugs."
Communities affected by drug abuse and illicit trafficking were also at the centre of this year's commemoration of this International Day in South Africa in the township of Zamdela by Sasolburg in the Free State Province.
Zamdela was chosen because of its high prevalence rate of substance abuse and the suffering brought on this community through this abuse, for example high levels of crime and health problems.
UNODC Southern Africa partnered with the National Department of Social Development, the provincial Department of Social Development of the Free State, as well as other National and Provincial Departments in organising the event.
On Sunday morning, the event was started off by an awareness-raising march to the Zamdela stadium. The march was lead by the South African Police Service, members of the clergy, the Deputy Minister of Social Development, Ms. Bongi Ntuli, the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Ms. Hlengiwe Mkhize, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms. Thabethe, the MEC of Social Development from the Free State, Ms. Ntombela, the MEC of Social Development from the Eastern Cape Province, Ms. Majodina, other provincial and local politicians, and UNODC's Regional Representative, Mr. Niang.
Following the march, which led past several shebeens and taverns next to schools and churches, where patrons were already drinking on early Sunday morning, the officials and approximately 2100 guests gathered at the Zamdela stadium.
Passionate Appeals to fight Drug Abuse
During the commemoration, the audience listened closely and interacted enthusiastically with passionate appeals by speakers as well as performances by choirs, singers and drama groups.
In his address to the audience, UNODC Regional Representative Mandiaye Niang, referred to the UN Secretary General's message of the day and pledged UNODC's support for efforts of the South African government to fight drug abuse and illicit trafficking.
Keynote speaker, Deputy Minister of Social Development Ntuli encouraged all community members to work together to stop the scourge of drug abuse and reminded the audience that:
"We meet here today cognizant that June is Youth Month, in remembrance and celebration of the invaluable contributions that youth have played, and continue to play in our country. Equally, we use this month to intensify our efforts and concentrate our energy on factors confronting our youth today. Key among these challenges is the growing problem of substance abuse among our young people in communities throughout the country."
The event ended with a commemoration and prayer for all those who have fallen victim to substance abuse and particularly the children who are being orphaned, abandoned or abused everyday addicted parents.