UNODC strengthens counter-narcotics assistance to Afghanistan and neighbouring countries

7 December - Vienna - (UNODC) - High-level government ministers from Afghanistan and neighbouring countries today launched the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2011- 2014 Regional Programme to boost coordinated counter-narcotics efforts and regional stability.  The launch follows the International Conference on Afghanistan held in the German city of Bonn to set the future course for Afghanistan after the 2014 handover of power to the Afghan Government.

"Given the gradual disengagement of the International Security Assistance Force, the international community will increasingly look to the United Nations to take on additional responsibilities in supporting Afghanistan," said UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov.

The agreement by eight national officials to cement cooperation, especially in information-sharing, is unprecedented, said Mr. Fedotov.  It is a measure of the trust built up by UNODC over the past few years that parties have come together in Vienna, putting aside their suspicions. In attendance were Ministers, Deputy Ministers and high-level representatives from Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Afghanistan and countries in West and Central Asia have been involved in various UNODC-brokered partnerships to improve their cross-border counter-narcotics capacities.

The Regional Programme is a strategic framework for the work of UNODC and multilateral partners, and focuses largely on counter-narcotics and the rule of law in order to respond effectively to drug trafficking and organized crime. Building on past successes, examples of future work may include training counter-narcotics law enforcement officials; conducting joint raids, drug seizures and border patrols; and tackling cross-border illicit money flows.

In parallel, a new country programme of UNODC for Afghanistan (2012-2014) will support the provinces, providing alternative livelihoods for opium poppy farmers, expanded health care, drug demand reduction and HIV prevention, while enhancing the capacity of the Ministry of Counter-Narcotics to conduct research, surveys and analysis.

Over the past five years, Afghanistan has produced some 90 per cent of the world's illicit opium. The UNODC Afghan Opium Survey 2011 showed that this year, Afghanistan witnessed a sharp increase in opium production, higher prices for the crop and a flourishing drugs trade that continued to fuel insecurity.

"Because the coming years are absolutely crucial for Afghanistan's future, we must produce a response based on shared responsibility and concrete action, "said the Executive Director.

For further information, please contact:

In Kabul:

Jelena Bjelica, Associate Communications Officer  Mobile: (+93) 796520857 |  jelena.bjelica{at}unodc.org

In Vienna:

Preeta Bannerjee, Public Information Officer: T: (+43-699) 1459-5764 | M: (+43-699) 1459-5764 | E: preeta.bannerjee{at}unodc.org

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