MCN claims progress in drug fight
KABUL (PAN): The cultivation, trafficking and use of illicit drugs remain critical challenges for Afghanistan, with negative social, economic, security and political effects, the Ministry of Counter-Narcotics (MCN) said on Saturday.
In a report released with technical support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the report underlined the need to scale up counter-narcotics policies and interventions.
"Considering the transition process and serious challenges related to drugs and organised crime, effective responses are required by the country with support from the international community," it added.
About measures to counter the threat, the report said farmers in areas targeted by the Helmand Food Zone Programme relied less on poppy and more on wheat cultivation for their income than growers outside the zone.
Additionally, the number of drug rehabilitation centres increased by 58 between 2009 and 2012 but overall official capacity remains low, covering only 5.9 percent of opium and heroin users in the country.
In terms of law enforcement, it said, significant progress had been seen in the number of drug seizures. From March 2009 to March 2013, heroin seizures increased by 250.4 percent, opium by 212.6 percent, hashish by 328 percent, morphine by 88.9 percent and alcohol by 1900 percent.
The number of cases at the Criminal Justice Task Force (CJTF) also rose by 48.8 percent and so did convictions by primary and appellate courts.
"I hope that this report will serve as an effective step in capacity building of national institutions to address drivers of poppy cultivation, trafficking and drug use," hoped the minister concerned.
UNODC called the document a valuable starting-point for national and international stakeholders involved in counter-narcotics efforts to guide and review policy and processes.
Given far-reaching implications of drugs, the report called for greater strategic efforts and investments to consolidate the gains made to date and effectively tackle the challenge in Afghanistan.
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