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UNIS/NAR/755
26 June 2002

Changes In Afghanistan Present Challenge, Opportunity To Reduce Global Opiates Supply

UN Global Illicit Drug Trends 2002 Report Offers Comprehensive Picture of the Drug Problem World-wide


VIENNA, 26 June (UN Information Service) -- The efforts to rebuild Afghanistan as a democratic and well-governed country provide an opportunity to make significant progress in substantially reducing the supply of opiates in the narcotics market, according to the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP). Its annual Global Illicit Drug Trends 2002 report, published today – on the occasion of International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking -- offers dramatic evidence of the importance of Afghanistan in world opium production and trafficking.

The Executive Director of ODCCP, Antonio Maria Costa, said: "Afghanistan and some regions in Latin America prove that the weakening of civil society and the breakdown in law and order facilitate criminal activities. As the uncivil elements hurt socio-political developments and even regional security, our response has to be comprehensive. We assist countries to combat the spread of drugs by helping them establish democratic accountability and sustainable development. This is the way to fight narcotics, as crime and drugs are an enemy of society."

The ODCCP report shows that in 2001 illicit opium production in Afghanistan went down by 94 per cent, causing a two-thirds decline in global opium production. However in 2002 production resumed and it is expected to be between 1,900-2,700 tons. This is comparable to levels recorded in the mid-1990s.

"Today, the challenge is to break the vicious circle which made Afghanistan the world’s biggest producer of illicit opium. The United Nations is assisting Afghan farmers in achieving sustainable agricultural alternative to opium poppy cultivation. We are especially strengthening national authorities’ efforts to enforce their strong commitment against cultivation, trafficking and abuse of drugs," Mr. Costa said.

The Global Illicit Drug Trends report has been produced by ODCCP since 1999. It presents annual estimates of illicit drug production, trafficking and consumption around the world. The statistics are based on data provided by Member States supplemented by other sources, including satellite monitoring.

"This report provides an overview of the size and evolution of the drug problem worldwide. It shows both what we know and, very importantly, what we do not know. An accurate picture of the global illicit drug trends helps us develop better policies for addressing the problem," Mr. Costa said.

Another major trend highlighted in the report is the increase in levels of heroin abuse in practically all countries in Eastern Europe, particularly along the main heroin trafficking routes. In the Russian Federation alone the number of registered drug addicts rose by 30 per cent in 2000, mostly abusing opiates. The rapidly increasing rate of drug-related HIV cases in the Russian Federation also threatens to become a major AIDS epidemic.

Recent years have also seen a significant increase in the abuse of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS). There are estimated to be about 33 million consumers of amphetamines and seven million consumers of Ecstasy globally. Abuse of amphetamines increased strongly in East and South East Asia although their use appears to be stabilizing in West Europe and North America. The report estimates there are about 13 million abusers of opiates and the same number of abusers of cocaine worldwide.

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