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18 January 2002

Text: Afghan Drug Ban Hailed by U.N. Agency

(U.N. proposes stronger drug control efforts for region) (890)
The United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention
(UNODCCP) is praising action by Afghanistan's interim administration
to ban opium poppy cultivation as a "very important step in
international drug control efforts," according to a press release from
the U.N. Information Service (UNIS).
The order issued by Hamid Karzai, chairman of the administration,
outlaws the production, processing, illicit use, smuggling and
trafficking of all drugs. U.S. State Department spokesman Philip
Reeker has also praised the action, and expressed support for Afghan
efforts to fulfill international commitments to combat drug
trafficking.
Afghanistan has long been one of the world's major sources of heroin.
U.S. intelligence reports indicate that the Taliban was involved in
that drug trafficking activity.
UNODCCP will be advocating the improvement of counter-trafficking
measures in international discussions of Afghan reconstruction. The
January 17 UNIS press release suggests improving law enforcement and
legal structures, identifying alternative crops, and establishing drug
rehabilitation and prevention programs.
In a related development, a senior U.N. drug control official reported
further anti-drug activity in Afghanistan. Bernard Frahi, who
represents UNODCCP in Afghanistan and Pakistan, told reporters in
Kabul January 16 that Pakistan had made "the world's largest heroin
seizure ever," confiscating more than 900 kilograms of heroin and
morphine trafficked out of Afghanistan.
"This first seizure represents the first gains in the battle against
heroin," Frahi said, according to UNIS.
The official said UNODCCP was coordinating the efforts of drug
enforcement agencies in the United States, Pakistan, Iran and the
Central Asian States to increase the seizure of narcotics in the
region.
Following is the text of the UNODCCP news release: 
(begin text)
UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION SERVICE
U.N. Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention
17 January 2002 
OPIUM BAN IN AFGHANISTAN: IMPORTANT STEP IN GLOBAL DRUG CONTROL
EFFORTS SAYS UN OFFICE FOR DRUG CONTROL AND CRIME PREVENTION (ODCCP)
VIENNA, 17 January (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations
Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP) says the ban on
opium poppy cultivation announced this week in Afghanistan represents
a very important step in international drug control efforts.
The ban on the production, processing and illicit use, smuggling and
trafficking of drugs such as opium and all of its ingredients was
announced by the Chairman of the Interim Administration in
Afghanistan, Dr. Hamid Karzai, on Wednesday 16 January in Kabul.
ODCCP is working closely with the Interim Administration to ensure
drug control remains high on the list of reconstruction priorities in
Afghanistan. Certainly, the Interim Administration needs strong
international support to put in place effective law enforcement and
drug control mechanisms and as well as in offering Afghan farmers
alternative means of livelihood.
As for the opium poppy ban, there are only two-three months to make
this ban meaningful and effective for this year. There are reliable
indications that opium poppy cultivation has resumed since October
2001 in some areas (such as the southern provinces Uruzgan, Helmand,
Nangarhar and Kandahar) following the effective implementation of the
Taliban ban on cultivation in 2001, not only because of the breakdown
in law and order but also because the farmers are desperate to find a
means of survival following the prolonged drought.
ODCCP has not been able to monitor these developments closely as there
was no presence on the ground in Afghanistan following the terrorist
attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001. Now ODCCP is
preparing for the annual opium poppy survey in Afghanistan. A
pre-assessment study report will be ready by the end of February and
the full survey will be completed by September this year.
For the ban to be effective and to ensure that the spring 2002 opium
poppy harvest does not reach global drug markets, there is a need for
a two-track approach. Firstly the Interim Administration needs help to
establish effective law enforcement capacities and specifically a drug
control commission in Kabul with drug control units in key provinces.
At the same time, it needs to provide immediate assistance to Afghani
farmers, landholders and sharecroppers as a first step in sustainable
alternative development with commercial agricultural crops replacing
opium poppy as the source of farmers' livelihood.
ODCCP has proposed a strategy for the next two and a half years for
drug control efforts in Afghanistan, which will be considered at next
week's Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan (21-22
January) in Tokyo.
The strategy sets out the following priorities on drug control:
-- Establishing drug enforcement capacity within the new police force;
-- Creating a legal framework in compliance with UN conventions on
drugs, crime and terrorism;
-- Formulating alternative livelihood strategies to opium poppy
cultivation;
-- Developing rural credit systems in major poppy growing areas; 
-- Formulating countrywide rehabilitation and prevention programs; 
-- Addressing the drug abuse situation countrywide.
The global importance of the ban on opium poppy cultivation and
trafficking in Afghanistan is enormous. In recent years Afghanistan
has been the main source of illicit opium: 70 per cent of global
illicit opium production in 2000 and up to 90 per cent of heroin in
European drug markets originated from Afghanistan.
(end text)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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