Capturing the faces of the drug trade in Afghanistan

Photo: Allesandro Scotti5 May 2011 - Accounting for over 90 per cent of the world's supply, the trade in opium from Afghanistan has a grave impact on security and development in the country as well as throughout West and Central Asia and beyond. In order to document this,  award-winning photographer Alessandro Scotti travelled to the Islamic Republics of Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and the Republic of Tajikistan for UNODC to capture the lives of real people involved in or touched by the trade in illicit drugs. The results were compiled in a book, Afghanistan and its Neighbours,  a sample of which can be seen in this slide show.

Tightly intertwined with organized crime, the opium trade in Afghanistan fuels corruption and spreads drug use. In some cases, it also supports terrorists. However, although data on Afghan opium abounds, the human tragedy behind the numbers is often forgotten.

Afghanistan and its Neighbours captures the complexities of the Afghan opium trade, including poppy cultivation and production, drug smuggling, border control and the criminal justice response. It also captures the desperation of drug users, and efforts to care for and rehabilitate them. "This is a region deeply affected by the trade in narcotics" said Mr. Scotti, "the people involved in it only have a partial perception of the overall phenomenon, yet their lives are so powerfully affected."

Speaking on the powerful images captured in Afghanistan and its Neighbours, UNODC's Executive Director Yury Fedotov noted: "The book highlights the challenges and some of the solutions to the problem of Afghan opium, I hope it will encourage ongoing support for Afghan farmers as well as law enforcement officials and healthcare workers throughout West and Central Asia, who are working on the frontlines to end this devastating scourge."

Afghanistan and its Neighbours is the last volume of  "De Narcoticis" - a three-part series of books which provides a pictorial map of drug cultivation, production and trafficking in the world's major illicit drug supplying regions. The first volume focused on Colombia and all aspects of the cocaine trade, while the second documented how drug control and sustainable development initiatives drastically reduced opium production in the Golden Triangle of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.

Slide Show:

Afghanistan and neighbouring countries by Alessandro Scotti