Poppy farmersKABUL, 25 June 2009 - The World Drug Report 2009, launched yesterday by the ‎UNODC in Washington DC, shows that global ‎markets for cocaine, opiates and cannabis are steady or in decline, while production and use of ‎synthetic drugs appears to be increasing in the developing world.‎

The Report noted the decline of global opium poppy cultivation to 189,000 hectares in 2008, ‎largely a result of a decrease in Afghanistan's cultivation area. On a further positive note, ‎UNODC estimates that the number of Afghan involved in opium poppy cultivation decreased by ‎‎28% between 2007 and 2008. Unfortunately, these trends need to be set against the tremendous ‎threat to Afghan stability and development that its drug trade continues to represent. Jean-Luc ‎Lemahieu, UNODC's Representative for Afghanistan, noted that "many more reductions will be ‎required to control the individual, social, economic and political damage of Afghanistan's opium ‎economy".‎

Opium production has exceeded demand in recent years, leading UNODC to assess that hundreds ‎of tons have been stockpiled by farmers and traders in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. ‎Mr. Lemahieu observed that "stockpiles will allow ongoing, large-scale heroin production ‎regardless of cultivation trends. This is bad news for Afghanistan and neighbouring countries ‎since it is often forgotten than not only demand creates supply, but that also supply generates ‎demand. Among other evils such as criminality and corruption, this stockpiling fuels the ‎dangerous growth in drug demand in Afghanistan".‎

UNODC is conducting a drug abuse survey of Afghanistan in 2009 and it is expected to show a ‎substantial expansion of demand. The increased availability of heroin has changed drug use ‎patterns in Afghanistan and neighboring countries, from traditional opium smoking and oral ‎consumption to drug injection. UNODC has observed that a significant number of Afghanistan's ‎injecting drug users are returnees from neighboring countries; injection compounds the health ‎risks of drug addiction by raising the threat of HIV transmission and a recent outbreak among ‎Afghanistan's heroin addicts illustrates the dangers of this trend.‎

More broadly, the cash and corruption generated by the drug trade undermines good governance, ‎stokes public frustration with the Afghan state and provides a useful source of funding for the ‎insurgency. "The drug trade in Afghanistan cuts across all other development and security issues. ‎The trend is positive, but the window of opportunity limited. Progress must be consolidated fast ‎and its process accelerated if we are to disengage the opium economy as a critical threat," urged ‎Mr. Lemahieu.‎

UNODC is leading the World Drug Campaign 2009 to raise awareness about the major challenge that ‎illicit drugs represent to society as a whole, and especially to the young. The goal of the campaign is to ‎mobilize support and to inspire people to act against drug abuse and trafficking. The campaign encourages ‎young people to put their health first and not to take drugs (http://www.unodc.org/drugs/).‎