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UN report says Afghan opium still posing threat to world

2009-10-29 15:08 BJT

By Abdul Hadi Mayar

KABUL, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- A fresh UN report says that despite fall in heroin production in Afghanistan, the country still produces 92 percent of world opium, which threatens the entire world.

The report released last week by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says Afghan opium crop dropped from 7,700 tons in 2008 to 6,900 tons this year, but because of massive overproduction there are now more than 12,000 tons of opium in stockpiles, "enough to meet world demand for more than two years."

It says: "Afghan opium kills more people every year than any other drug on the planet, claiming up to 100,000 lives annually."

"About 15 million people around the world use heroin, opium or morphine, fueling a 65 billion U.S. dollars market for the drug and also fueling terrorism and insurgencies."

The report says Afghan opium now threatens to sow havoc around the globe, adding that Europe and Russia account for more than a third of the Afghan opium consumption.

The report sounded a strong warning about the Central Asian opium-trafficking route, which has become a virtual conveyor belt for heroin between Afghanistan and Russia.

"The perfect storm of drugs, crime and insurgency that has swirled around the Afghanistan - Pakistan border for years is heading for Central Asia," Antonio Maria Costa, the executive director of UN drug office said while releasing the report.

A greater portion of Afghan heroin enters the territory of the former Soviet Union through the Afghan border with Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. It then travels westwards towards Kazakhstan before entering the central region of Russia.

A recent BBC report said that Russia's central areas have now become focal spots of heroin addiction.

According to UN estimates, Russia is now the world's largest consumer of heroin. At least 70 tons of Afghan heroin were consumed in Russia last year, more than three times the amount in the United States and Canada combined.

UN reports say there are between one-and-a-half to 6 million heroin addicts in Russia. Besides, the country has seen hundreds of thousands of HIV and hepatitis infection resulting from intravenous drug injections.

In the past, the issue of drug trafficking from Afghanistan has led to serious tensions between Moscow and Washington.