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Opium Production Rises to Record Levels Worldwide

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 26 2014 (IPS) - Illicit opium production rose last year to nearly 300,000 hectares, the largest since estimates became available, with Afghan heroin reaching new markets, according to a United Nations report.

Afghanistan, which has been the world’s largest opium producer, accounted for 209,000 hectares, or 70 percent of the total cultivation area, said the World Drug Report 2014 released on Thursday by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

“There is evidence that Afghan heroin is increasingly reaching new markets, such as Oceania and Southeast Asia, that had been traditionally supplied from Southeast Asia,” the report said.

“The so-called ‘southern route’ is expanding, with heroin being smuggled through the area south of Afghanistan reaching Europe, via the Near and Middle East and Africa, as well as directly from Pakistan.”

Apart from Afghanistan, Myanmar saw an increase in the area of opium cultivation, according to the report.

The report also presents the latest development of the use of opiates, cocaine, cannabis and amphetamines, and their impacts on the users’ health. Up to 200,000 people worldwide die of drug-related issues every year despite the stabilisation of its use, the report said.

Between 3.5 percent and 7.0 percent of the world’s population at the age of 15-64 had used an illicit drug at least once by 2012 while up to 39 million people worldwide had drug use disorders or dependence in 2012, relatively similar to the previous years, according to the report.

“We must continue to enhance international cooperation, including with respect to transparent sharing of data and analysis, to help us better understand the drug problem and address the many challenges, including the related issues of violence and insecurity,” UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said.

This report also provides the joint estimates about the number of people injecting drugs and living with HIV from the UNODC, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Bank, the U.N. said.

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  • Patrick Sudlow

    One of the excuses made by the USA and its allies, for invading Afghanistan, was to stop opium production. Like all USA intervention, it has been a complete failure.