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  • Afghanistan’s Opium Production on the Rise

    Posted on April 19th, 2012 TimB No comments

    Opium production will rise across Afghanistan in 2012, spreading to more parts of the country than it has in the last few years, according to a new annual assessment  from the United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

    The report found that this year, only 15 provinces will be free from poppy production – down from 20 provinces in 2009 and 2010 — and indicated a ”strong association between insecurity, lack of agricultural assistance and opium cultivation.”

    Traditionally, UNODC’s assessments are issued with a press release, but as The Guardian notes, this year’s was published on the UNODC’s website with no publicity.

    “We are back in the situation we had in 2007-08,” UNODC country representative Jean-Luc Lemahieu told the paper. “The Taliban definitely get income from opium cultivation … but the lion’s share of the income still disappears here, into the hands of the big patrons of this country.”

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  • Channel 4 News Chief Correspondent Alex Thomson reports from the streets of Kabul on Afghanistan’s spiralling drug addiction – and the difficulty of tackling it in the middle of a war.

    Posted on February 7th, 2012 TimB No comments

    Warning: the film report above contains some very distressing images

    Every city in every country has an issue with abusing one substance or another. But in most it is behind doors. In Afghanistan right now the problem is so vast, and spiralling further out of control every day, that the addicts are obvious to everyone.

    Down by the Kabul River, even in a winter blizzard, you will see them there. Huddled in groups sometimes up to a hundred strong, crouching along the frozen riverbanks. Or under the arches of the bridges spanning this evil-smelling open-sewer, masquerading as a river.

    Under one arch of a bridge Mohammad explains how he was deported from Iran back to Afghanistan and found himself in Kabul, without a job. Soon he was on the streets and smoking opium, then heroin, and here he is now, pupils dilated, filthy and half-frozen, crouching with perhaps twenty more addicts, desperate to get a hit from their makeshift pipes.

    “Look at us, “he says, “this is no way to live, this is not an existence.”

    Another addict staggers across and says:

    “Everyone beats us – the police, the kids here, women, men from the neighbourhood – we get attacked all the time.”

    They make another addict crouched close by and inhaling deeply on his pipe sit up so we can see his face. His right eye is closed, swollen from a beating. His right ear swollen and bloody. They say it was the police – but it could have been any of the above named groups.

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  • Africa, hub and potatoes of Afghan heroin

    Posted on February 1st, 2012 TimB No comments

    The trend is not new but growing. While there is much talk of the problem of Latin American cocaine in Africa, the heroin is just as relevant today.Especially as increasing amounts transiting the region, while nearly 1.7 million people consume in this region. The country has more than 25 000 injecting drug users. A number constantly increasing in large cities where heroin injection is spreading, and with it the transmission of HIV and hepatitis, “ said MDM. According to Doctors of the World, 40% of injection drug users are infected with HIV in Tanzania.

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  • Opium Production in Afghanistan Shows Increase, Prices set to Rise

    Posted on October 11th, 2011 TimB No comments

    Opium poppy-crop cultivation in Afghanistan reached 131,000 hectares in 2011, 7 per cent higher than in 2010, due to insecurity and high prices, said the summary findings of the 2011 Afghan Opium Survey released by the Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN) and UNODC.

    Afghanistan suffers from one of the highest rates of opiate consumption in the world with a current prevalence rate of 2.65 per cent. In 2005, the prevalence rate of opiate use was 1.4 per cent. The country also faces an HIV epidemic among the country’s injecting drug users.

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  • UNODC Afghanistan Cannabis survey 2010 June 2011

    Posted on July 1st, 2011 TimB No comments

    This 2010 Afghanistan Cannabis Survey updates the first-ever Afghanistan Cannabis Survey that was  produced in 2009 by the UNODC and the Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN). Based on years of  evidence from cannabis seizures that pointed to Afghanistan as a main cannabis producer, the 2009 survey  was the initial effort to systemically estimate cannabis cultivation and production in the country.  The findings confirmed Afghanistan’s role as a major grower of cannabis, but also discovered that the country produced more cannabis resin or hashish than any other nation. The reason why was found to be the country’s high yields, up to 145 kg of resin per hectare as compared to Morocco’s 40 kg per hectare.

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  • Drug use and harm reduction in Afghanistan

    Posted on May 21st, 2011 TimB No comments

    93% of the world opium is produced in Afghanistan and, there were, in 2009, 1 500 000 drug users in the country. Furthermore, the pattern of drug use in Afghanistan has been changing from smoking to injecting. Kabul, the capital, is home to 50 % of the country’s heroin users (around 20000 people according to UNODC in 2009).

    Médecins du Monde (an international humanitarian Non-Governmental Organization) has been active in Afghanistan for the past 24 years in the implementation of different health programs. Since 2006, MDM focuses on prevention, care and treatment for (injecting) drug users, known as the highest risk group regarding HIV/AIDS in the country.
    The Afghan Ministry of Public Health and MdM started a pilot program for opioid substitution therapy and the first 10 persons received methadone in February 2010.

    This slideshow compiles testimonies of patients under methadone therapy. The photographs were taken by Sandra Calligaro. Ms. Calligaro is a French photographer born in 1981, working in Afghanistan for the last 4 years and collaborating with international media and NGOs.

  • Capturing the faces of the drug trade in Afghanistan

    Posted on May 6th, 2011 TimB No comments

    Accounting for over 90 per cent of the world’s supply, the trade in opium from Afghanistan has a grave impact on security and development in the country as well as throughout West and Central Asia and beyond. In order to document this,  award-winning photographer Alessandro Scotti travelled to the Islamic Republics of Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and the Republic of Tajikistan for UNODC to capture the lives of real people involved in or touched by the trade in illicit drugs. The results were compiled in a book, Afghanistan and its Neighbours.

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  • Afghanistan:: A New Therapy Battles Soaring Drug Addiction

    Posted on April 13th, 2011 TimB No comments

    Doctors on the programme, which gives patients controlled doses of methadone to help them control their heroin addictions, say its results show the benefit harm reduction treatment can have in tackling the spread of blood-borne diseases among injecting drug users and help often ostracised addicts reintegrate into society.

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  • UNODC predicts slight decrease in opium cultivation in 2011

    Posted on February 1st, 2011 TimB No comments

    A slight decrease in opium cultivation can be expected in Afghanistan in 2011, despite the current high price of opium. A qualitative assessment of farmers’ intentions gives grounds for cautious optimism that neither cultivation nor production will spiral out of control as previously feared.

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  • Afghanistan Opium Survey 2010

    Posted on February 1st, 2011 TimB No comments

    The  Afghanistan Opium Survey is implemented annually by  the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and, since 2003, in collaboration with the Afghan Government.

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