Experts gather for UN meeting to tackle flow of heroin from Afghanistan

12 October 2004

United Nations officials and senior policy-makers from around the world are meeting today in Vienna to discuss how to halt or reduce the rising flood of heroin being exported from Afghanistan.

The meeting, organized by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), will examine proposed border control and law enforcement measures in countries along some of the major drug trafficking routes out of Afghanistan.

UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said the production in Afghanistan of opium, which is used to make heroin “has become a national security threat to the country” and to its neighbours.

“Heroin is sold locally, causing major addiction and the spread of HIV/AIDS,” Mr. Costa added, calling on all countries to strengthen their measures against the scourge.

Last year opium production in Afghanistan reached an estimated 3,600 tons, an increase of 6 per cent over the previous year sales and generated $1 billion for farmers and $1.3 billion for drug traffickers – or the equivalent of 52 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).

At a meeting hosted by the French Government in May last year, 55 States and organizations launched the Paris Pact to encourage greater cooperation between them on law enforcement and border control so that the trafficking of Afghan heroin through West and Central Asia to Europe could be reduced. Already, several Central Asian countries have introduced new border controls as a result.

Today’s meeting is also likely to consider a proposed database that would contain information on anti-drug measures and country requests for assistance around the world.

 

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