Serbia marks the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking with UNODC and other partners

23 June 2022, Belgrade, Serbia: On the occasion of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, the Office for Combatting Drugs of the Republic of Serbia organized a conference to discuss this year’s theme “addressing drug challenges in health and humanitarian crises”. UNODC was convened to the event along with representatives from the Ministries of Interior, Health, Education, Culture and Information as well as academia and civil society organizations working in harm reduction, prevention, rehabilitation and resocialization of people who use drugs, to exchange views and raise awareness on these topics.

The group discussed a number of challenges, including the impact of the global humanitarian crisis on the drug market, with an overview of trends in drug seizures in Serbia; social protection of vulnerable groups; recovery process; role of the media in drug prevention and de-stigmatization as well as the implementation of prevention programmes.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people who use drugs was central in the discussions as it allowed to underline the additional challenges it caused and the importance to leave no one behind, particularly people in need during crises, people undergoing treatment for drug use disorders and youth.

UNODC actively participated in the discussions marking the World Drug Day and highlighted the need to strengthen action and cooperation in achieving health and safety for all, and the importance of evidence-based prevention of drug use and other risky behaviors, and drug use disorder treatment and care for all in need - especially in times of crises. UNODC praised the cooperation with the relevant institutions in Serbia in the common efforts to tackle drug use disorders through prevention and treatment. With programmes such as ‘Strong Families’, ‘Families United’ and ‘Listen First’ UNODC supports practitioners in South-Eastern Europe in developing family skills to support the healthy and safe development of children and preventing drug use, violence, mental health and other negative social and health consequences.

The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking marks the release of the World Drug Report every year, UNODC took this opportunity to invite all participants to join the presentation of the 2022 edition early July.

This activity contributes to SDG Target 3.5 on preventing and treating substance abuse.