official warns on Afghanistan opium
Associated Press via Yahoo, September 2,
Afghanistan - Opium cultivation in
is spiraling out of control, rising 59 percent
this year to produce a record 6,100 tons —
nearly a third more than the world's drug users
consume, the U.N. said Saturday.
Maria Costa, the U.N. anti-drug chief, said the
results from his agency's annual survey of
Afghanistan's poppy crop were "very alarming."
harvest will be around 6,100 tons of opium — a
staggering 92 percent of total world supply. It
exceeds global consumption by 30 percent," Costa
told reporters in Kabul after presenting the
survey to President Hamid Karzai. Opium is the
raw material of heroin.
In a scathing
statement, Costa said the Afghan government
should take much stronger action to root out
graft, saying governors and police chiefs of
opium-growing provinces should be sacked and
charged. He accused corrupt administrators of
pocketing aid money.
Costa warned that
the south of the country was "displaying the
ominous hallmarks of incipient collapse, with
large-scale drug cultivation and trafficking,
insurgency and terrorism, crime and corruption."
The bulk of the
increase was recorded in lawless Helmand
province, where cultivation rose 162 percent and
accounted for 42 percent of the Afghan crop. The
province is facing an upsurge in attacks by
Taliban-led militants fighting
is increasingly frustrated by the fact that
opium cultivation in Afghanistan is out of
control," Costa said. "Afghan opium is fueling
insurgency in western Asia, feeding
international mafias and causing 100,000 deaths
from overdoses every year."
say militants are implicated in the drug trade,
encouraging poppy cultivation and using the
proceeds to help fund their insurgency. However,
government officials and police, particularly at
provincial and district levels, also are deeply
The top U.S.
anti-narcotics official in Afghanistan also
warned that the illicit trade in opium and
heroin threatened the country's fledgling
democracy, instituted after the ouster of the
hard-line Taliban regime nearly five years ago
by U.S.-led forces.
could be taken down by this whole drugs
problem," Doug Wankel told reporters in Kabul —
echoing strong rhetoric voiced by Karzai last
month. "We have seen what can come from
Afghanistan, if you go back to 9/11. Obviously
the U.S. does not want to see that again."
"If this thing
gets out of hand, you could move from a narco-economy
to a narco-state. Then you have a very difficult
chance for this country being able to achieve
what it needs to as a democracy and a nation
representing its people," he said.
the drug trade — already estimated to account
for at least 35 percent of the country's gross
domestic product — as a "national security
threat to Afghanistan, the region and the
conducted by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime
showed the area under poppy cultivation in
Afghanistan reached a record 407,700 acres in
2006, up from 257,000 acres in 2005. The
previous highest 331,360 acres in 2004.
yield of 6,100 tons of opium resin — enough to
make 610 tons of heroin — is up from 4,100 tons
in 2005, exceeding the highest ever global
output of 5,764 tons recorded in 1999.
Last year, about
450 tons of heroin was consumed worldwide,
according to the U.N.
criticized international military, political and
economic efforts, saying they were having little
impact on drug cultivation. He said foreign aid
was "plagued by huge overhead costs."