Returning from Balkans, UN official urges greater efforts in countering illicit drugs

22 March 2013

The head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today underscored the need to ramp up efforts in combating drug demand, supply and trafficking, while urging Member States to intensify prevention strategies, particularly in the Balkans, where the main European trafficking routes for illicit drugs continue to operate.

“UNODC is building a coherent response to drugs, crime and terrorism which views them as global phenomena needing global solutions. To achieve this, we are introducing integrated programmes that deliver effective assistance,” said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov, after a two-day mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he met with local law enforcement officials.

“As we continue with this strategy we will use our core strengths in analysis, technical assistance and helping to build capacities to support the Member States who confront these challenges,” he added.

UNODC’s work in the Balkans is coordinated by its Regional Programme for South-eastern Europe, launched by Mr. Fedotov in May 2012 at the request of the Governments in the region, in an effort to counter the growing threat posed by opiates trafficked from Afghanistan to lucrative markets in western Europe via the so-called Balkan route.

According to the UN agency’s estimates, around 60 tons of heroin, worth around $13 billion, moves along the Balkan route from the opium fields of Afghanistan to destinations in west and central Europe. In 2011, authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina – which is a transit point for illicit drugs – reported seizures of 10.2 kilograms of heroin, 444 kilograms of marijuana, and almost 10 kilograms of amphetamines.

In addition to providing technical assistance and capacity building in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNODC also furnishes training for experts in the use of quality standards as well as releasing surveys on corruption in the region.

“Our goal in South-eastern Europe is to work closely with Member States to counter transnational organized crime, corruption, money laundering, terrorism and drug abuse,” Mr. Fedotov stated before departing Sarajevo.

“I am very glad that Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to be such a strong partner for UNODC in all these areas.”

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