On its first anniversary, UNODC SEE Regional Programme proves worth, shows road ahead
VIENNA, 23 May 2013 - Speaking on the first anniversary of the launch of the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, UNODC Chief Yury Fedotov said: "The positive impact of this integrated programme extends far beyond the borders of South Eastern Europe. The Regional Programme links Europe to UNODC's work in West and Central Asia and is a strong platform for countering the heroin moving along the Balkan corridor from Afghanistan to the markets of Western and Central Europe."
The Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe includes Croatia (as a partner), Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo under UN Security Council Resolution 1244. Since its launch, on 23 May 2012, and covering the period up to 2015, UNODC's Regional Programme has undertaken an aggressive range of activities to assist in countering illicit drug trafficking, as well as confronting transnational organized crime, corruption, money laundering and drug abuse. In the Albanian port of Durres, the Programme established a Container Control Unit to apply modern risk assessment methods to increase the detection of illicit trafficking. A similar unit is also being established in the Montenegrin port of Bar.
Anti-corruption is another important focus area for the SEE Regional Programme. With support of the EU, in-depth surveys on corruption have been conducted among the population and businesses community in the region. Support has also been offered on the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption.
Several drug dependence prevention, treatment and care programmes have been offered to the countries of the region. The prevention programme has reached more than 840 families in the region, enabling them to mitigate the risks of drug abuse among children and youth. In addition, some 1,400 practitioners have benefited from a programme promoting advanced treatment standards (known as "TREATNET").
The SEE Regional Programme has been a prime mover in the UNODC core strategy of "networking the networks". By focusing on a series of key bodies both in Afghanistan and its neighbouring countries, and along the main drug routes out of the country, UNODC is seeking to promote effective and efficient cooperation, joint operations and the sharing of information about illicit trafficking. The networked bodies include both UNODC-led initiatives such as the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre, the Joint Planning Cell of the Triangular Initiative, as well as the South East Law Enforcement Centre and others.
"The underlying principle driving the SEE Regional Programme is shared responsibility among nations, as well as among other bodies and organizations. To successfully counter illicit drugs flowing from Afghanistan, we need to halt the trafficking of drugs, both inside and outside the country, while also offering the necessary treatment and prevention programmes," said Mr. Fedotov.
"I am very grateful to the donors of the SEE Programme. The Programme has taken enormous strides forward over the last twelve months, and it will make an even greater impact in the years to come as it continues to grow its portfolio and deliver on its core activities," Mr. Fedotov continued.
Based on UNODC's estimates, around 60 tons of heroin, worth US$13 billion, moves along the Balkan route to west and central Europe. For this reason, the Balkan route remains one of the main trafficking routes for illicit drugs connecting Afghanistan to European markets.
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