Afghan anti- heroin combat needs a new phase of regional and international cooperation.
Various programs aimed at resolving the problem of massive production of heroin in Afghanistan should be merged into an internationally-supervised office, suggests Russia’s chief drug officer.
“We suggest the creation of an international headquarter or an office for combating the planetary center of drug production in Afghanistan. The goal of the HQ would be to consolidate the currently separate anti-narcotic programs in Afghanistan and to create an effective, internationally-supervised mechanism to eradicated drug production,” Viktor Ivanov, the head of Russian Federal Drug Control Service, told on Sunday.
He added that such a global effort should include not only direct attack on opium poppy field and drug trafficking, but also a large investment program for Afghanistan.
A latest study by a US investigation body says,America’s war on drugs is failing in Afghanistan, with opium production at record levels, despite spending $7.5 billion to tackle the problem. Over 200 thousand hectares is used to grow opium, an increase of 36 percent, according to a US report.
The report also said, opium poppy cultivation increasing by over a third, while the country now has about 1.3 million heroin users. This is a ten-fold increase compared to 2005, when around 130,000 people were using the drug.
Russia is badly affected by Afghan heroine which make its way through central Asian countries.
“Russia believes that the international community should organize a comprehensive development program for Afghanistan to be implemented between 2015 and 2025. It would be based on alternative development of the new generation and include forceful industrialization effort and basic infrastructure development,” Ivanof said.
“We see Afghanistan a strong a prosperous nation in the near future. We have to bet on development for it,” Ivanov said.
Heroine production was on the decline in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, but skyrocketed since the US-led coalition invaded the country. Over 200,000 hectares in Afghanistan are currently used to grow opium poppies, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
“In 14 years since the start of the Enduring Freedom operation, over a million people in Eurasia have died from Afghan heroin, with at least half of them being Russian citizens,” Ivanov said. “The intensive transit of drug products from Afghanistan, which is estimated at over 100 billion dollars annually, provides the basis for the spreading of paramilitary drug gangs, the rise of violence and involvement of millions of people in the region in the transit of the high-priced drug products, which has deformed the political landscape of the states in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East.”
But the impact of the Afghan heroin goes much further, affecting Europe, the US, African countries. The situation is aggravated by political turmoil, like the one underway in Ukraine, where the decline of law enforcement had resulted in increased heroin traffic lately.
Russia on its part is working with the Afghan authorities to help them tackle the problem, Ivanov said. A joint raid on Wednesday resulted in five drug laboratories destroyed in Afghan province of Badakhshan, which produced more than 250 kg of heroin daily.
Since September 2010 the Russian-Afghan operations against drug gangs saw 24 laboratories dismantled, he added.
Moscow has repeatedly pushed for the eradication of poppy fields in Afghanistan as the simplest solution. NATO, however, seems to have no intention of doing so.
Afghanistan is responsible for about three-quarters of the world’s heroin production, with much of it being cultivated in the Helmand and Kandahar provinces in the south of the country. However, the US has concentrated most of its efforts in the east of Afghanistan, which has relatively little poppy production, as it is safer than working in the south.
In 2013, the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics reported that just 7,300 hectares of poppy fields had been destroyed, which was only three percent of the total opium fields in the country. The US has spent $7.5 billion since 2002 trying to combat the problem of opium production. However, despite these vast sums very little impact has been made on the amount of heroin appearing on the world market.