I thank the G20 Presidency of Italy for bringing us together.
Practical action is urgently required to contain spillover effects from the Afghanistan crisis, and to save lives and livelihoods.
While delivering for the people of Afghanistan, we must also protect regional and international stability through holistic responses to address the illicit opium economy and its strong linkages to terrorism, transnational organized crime, and other crimes.
The international community has long recognized counter-narcotics as a shared responsibility.
Nonetheless, political will to tackle opium has dangerously fallen in recent years in Afghanistan.
As a result, opium poppy cultivation has reached record highs. At peak cultivation, the opiate economy was worth up to 32 percent of Afghan GDP. As insecurity rose, eradication fell further. Desperate poppy farmers grew more, while opium prices hit record lows last year.
We can neither afford to neglect the drug threat in the current crisis, nor fail the thousands of poverty-stricken families who need sustainable income-generating options to replace the illicit opium economy.
Our approach must be swift, measured, and smart. As recognized by the G20 Presidency, to act we must build on existing expertise and operations.
In response, UNODC is activating its long-standing support to the countries on the frontlines of the Afghanistan crisis, including through the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries.
UNODC is enabling dialogue, as well as agile coordination between law enforcement, intelligence, prosecutor, financial and border management agencies through regional and inter-regional platforms and networks.
Going forward, we will step up monitoring of poppy cultivation and multiple, cross-border illicit flows.
We will build regional capacities to disrupt trafficking of opiates and methamphetamines, as well as illicit firearms trafficking and their linkages to terrorism and terrorist financing – all essential actions to safeguard stability.
UNODC is also working to prevent violent extremism, and to protect vulnerable refugees from exploitation by organized criminal groups.
As part of the UN’s immediate life-saving assistance, UNODC is ready to support treatment and care services for the millions suffering from drug use disorders in Afghanistan.
We also have the experience and tools to provide alternative development solutions and income-generating opportunities to curb illicit cultivation.
To do this, UNODC counts on your support. You can count on ours. Thank you.