In the battle against the heroin trade from Afghanistan, which produces almost all the world’s supply, the United Nations drug agency is joining an international effort to train Afghan and Central Asian enforcement officers, as around one fifth of the total output of the illicit narcotic is smuggled through these neighbouring five republics to Russia and elsewhere in Europe.
Under the agreement, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will assist experts from NATO countries and Russia in developing training programmes and providing logistical support, as well as being the executing agency for the $927,000 project, it said in a news release.
“Central Asia is a crucial front in the fight against narcotics trafficking,” said UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa.
“The illicit drugs that come across these borders devastate the lives of countless individuals throughout the world. They increase the incidence of HIV/AIDS and fund organized crime. Strengthening security along Central Asian borders is in all of our interests.”
The lengthy, rugged and porous borders between Central Asia and Afghanistan are easily exploited by traffickers and provide a major challenge for police and customs.
This first cooperation agreement between UNODC and the NATO-Russia Council will see mobile training teams visiting Afghanistan and its five Central Asian neighbours, which will supplement training in permanent facilities provided by Russia and Turkey.