Afghan opium causing 100,000 deaths every year: UN

Afghan opium causing 100,000 deaths every year: UN

"We have identified the global consequences of the Afghan opium trade. Some are devastating, but expected; others seem surprising, yet they are very real," said Antonio Maria Costa, chief of the United Nations Organisation of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) at the launch of the report, 'Addiction, Crime and Insurgency: The Transnational Threat of Afghan Opium'.

"I urge the friends of Afghanistan to recognise that, to a large extent, these uncomfortable truths may be the result of their benign neglect," he added.
Afghanistan produces 92 percent of the world's opium, which is the raw material for heroin -- the world's deadliest drug. The study also finds 900 tons of opium and 375 tons of heroin are trafficked from Afghanistan every year.

Approximately 40 per cent of Afghanistan's heroin is trafficked each year into Pakistan, about 30 per cent enters the Islamic Republic of Iran, and 25 per cent flows into Central Asia.

"The Afghanistan/Pakistan border region has turned into the world's largest free trade zone in anything and everything that is illicit -- drugs of course, but also weapons, bomb-making equipment, chemical precursors, drug money, even people and migrants," said Costa.

Uncontrolled borders result in an insignificant two per cent interception rate of the opiates produced, compared to 36 per cent in Colombia for cocaine, the study notes. These drugs are also reaching countries along the Balkan and Eurasian drug routes, of countries in Europe, of China, India and the Russian Federation.

The report also finds that the Taliban is making more money from opium production than in the nineties when it was in power. Its profits from taxing opium cultivation and trade has increased from 75-100 million dollars per year, a decade ago, to  90-160 million dollars.

"Many of these drug barons, with links to insurgency, are known to Afghan and foreign intelligence services. Why have their names not been submitted to the Security Council, as required by resolutions 1735 and 1822, in order to ban their travel and seize their assets?," asked the UNODC chief.

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