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Afghanistan, Neighbouring Countries Join Counter-Narcotic Fight
VIENNA, 14 June (UN Information Service) Afghanistan and its neighbouring countries have taken new measures against the threat posed by drug cultivation and trafficking. Today the second phase of the project aimed at strengthening coordination in one of the largest opium poppy cultivation and drug-producing regions of the world has been announced. The project involving the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP) in Vienna covers ten countries in Southwest and Central Asia which are members of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO).
"Until today the world has been preoccupied with the regions where drugs originate from. Today we face a challenge of assisting the region to fight increasing drug abuse. We have some encouraging early successes, such as the establishment of the Drug Control Agency in Tajikistan. We want to use it as a model in strengthening drug control capacities of other neighbouring countries and of the region as a whole," the ODCCP Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa, said.
At a meeting in Vienna today, Mr. Costa and the Secretary-General of ECO, Abdolrahim Gavahi, have signed the documentation for the second phase of the drug control project in the region which is being funded by the European Commission.
ECO comprises ten countries: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. All ECO countries are affected by drug addiction, drug trafficking and related crime and it is the worlds largest opium-, morphine-, heroin- and cannabis-producing and trafficking region.
In the first phase from July 1999-December 2001, ODCCP assisted the ECO Secretariat in creating its own Drug Control Coordination Unit (DCCU) to coordinate drug control activities of all ECO Member States. So far the project has helped establish the unit, train its staff and drug control coordinating staff in all ten Member States.
In the ongoing second phase which runs until the end of 2003, the emphasis will be on enhancing drug control cooperation and coordination among ECO member states. Project activities will include improving operational cooperation and technical skills of national drug control agencies and enhancing their capability for dealing with domestic and regional dimensions of the illicit narcotic issue.
ODCCP has been implementing a number of technical assistance, crop monitoring and alternative development projects in the region. In coordination with a number of donor countries as well as with other UN agencies ODCCP is in the process of developing a comprehensive regional drug control and crime prevention strategy.
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