Vienna, 23 October 2016 - Today, UNODC launched the Afghanistan Opium Survey 2016 at a press conference in Kabul.
The survey shows a worrying reversal in efforts to combat the persistent problem of illicit drugs and their impact on development, health and security.
Based on our findings, the total area under opium poppy cultivation has increased 10 per cent from 183,000 ha in 2015 to 201,000 ha this year.
Poppy cultivation is expanding in the north and west, and the number of poppy free provinces has fallen from 14 to 13 in 2016.
Eradication has dropped precipitously to 355 ha-a fall of some 91 per cent.
The average opium yield has also grown by 30 per cent leading to a corresponding rise in opium production of 43 per cent or 4,800 tons.
None of these results are positive, and they indicate the scale of the threat confronted by Afghanistan and the international community.
But, it is worth acknowledging that Afghanistan is also arguably the first of the many victims of this destructive drug.
Afghanistan suffers devastating levels of drug addiction; heightened instability and insecurity, and weakened development due to the impact of illicit drugs.
Local law enforcement efforts are often conducted against the backdrop of a bitter and violent insurgency that stubbornly endures and hinders progress.
These problems have radiated outwards creating health and security challenges in Afghanistan's neighbours, in West and Central Asia, and along the main drug routes to the rest of the world.
For all these reasons, never has the concept of shared responsibility been so important, or more desperately needed for a drug producing country.
I urge the international community to strengthen its engagement with the Afghan Government and to provide the resources to build greater regional cooperation.
Political commitment within Afghanistan must also be deepened to face down illicit drugs, but also to stop endemic corruption, as well as the proliferation of money laundering and other financial crimes.
Drug money fuels terrorism and is the driving force behind corruption.
Action against the impact of illicit drugs, must also be tempered by a recognition that root causes must be overcome.
Sustainable livelihoods are a workable reality, but we cannot expect farmers to turn from illicit to licit crops if there is no market, or no workable infrastructure for the transport of goods.
These problems are part of a much wider development issue within Afghanistan.
In September last year, the world adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
We must lend our support to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Afghanistan-including vital work on a peaceful and inclusive society, health, poverty, peace, and gender, among many others.
The truth is we cannot afford to turn our back on this hard pressed nation, which can do so much to help reduce the global misery and suffering caused by opium and heroin.
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