Afghanistan has become the source of almost three quarters of all global illicit opium production, an industry generating an annual turnover of about $25 billion worldwide, according to the main United Nations anti-drug agency.
Bernard Frahi, a senior official from the UN Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP), told journalists in Kabul today that Afghanistan was the place of origin of 70 to 90 percent of the heroin found in European markets as well as the source of almost 100 per cent of the opiates - opium and its derivates, morphine and heroin - consumed in Iran, Pakistan, the central Asian States and the Russian Federation. He made his remarks on the eve of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking and the release of an ODCCP report on the illicit drug trade.
The number of opiate users in that area was roughly estimated to be 3.5 million to 4 million, including 2 million in Russia, he added.
Mr. Frahi noted that since the start of the year the Afghan administration has taken measures to eradicate poppy production in key provinces.
"It has been a remarkable step at the initial stage to impose a rule of law," he said in response to a question on the effectiveness of the steps. "Though the measure was unpopular, it has proved to be an important step to demonstrate to the population that there is a decree and that they have to comply with it."