Headline News


UN: Afghan opium production hits record


Source: | 08-28-2007 09:14

Afghan policemen stand guard near a pile of burning opium products during an official ceremony in the outskirts of Kabul. Afghanistan's opium production has doubled in two years, reaching a new high in 2007, with the country almost the exclusive supplier of the world's deadliest drug, the United Nations announced Monday.(AFP/Massoud Hossaini)

Afghanistan is producing record crops of opium, despite the presence of thousands of foreign troops in the country. The UN drug chief urges the Afghan government and its international backers to do much more to curb disastrous drug crops a cancer which threatens Afghanistan's survival.

Latest figures released by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime show cultivation of illicit drug crops in Afghanistan has increased by seventy percent since 2001 to 193,000 hectares. And this year, Afghanistan has already produced about 8,000 tons of opium.

Antonio Maria Costa, director UN Office on Drugs and Crime , said, "There is no other country in the world producing so much. I would say more than that. Afghanistan is producing more illicit drugs than all Andean countries combined - Peru, Bolivia, Columbia of course."

Costa urges the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan to be more active in detecting and destroying heroin laboratories and providing security to drug eradication forces in the country.

The Taliban insurgency is being blamed for the increase in drug production in the country's south where security is the weakest. This has more than wiped out progress made in the country's more peaceful north and center where opium cultivation has fallen.

The huge profits from drugs - worth about three billion US dollars a year - has had a corrupting influence on government and has weaken the state's grip on parts of the country. This has helped the Taliban and further boosted drug production.