• Losing Ground

    Drug Control and War in Afghanistan

    The worsening armed conflict and the all-time record opium production in Afghanistan have caused a wave of panic. We are losing ground. Calls are being made for robust military action by NATO forces to destroy the opium industry in southern Afghanistan. But intensifying a war on drugs in Afghanistan now would further fuel the conflict, which is the last thing that the country needs.

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  • Downward Spiral

    Banning Opium in Afghanistan and Burma

    Opium farmers in Afghanistan and Burma are coming under huge pressure as local authorities implement bans on the cultivation of poppy. Banning opium has an immediate and profound impact on the livelihoods of more than 4 million people. These bans are a response to pressure from the international community. Afghan and Burmese authorities alike are urging the international community to accompany their pressure with substantial aid.

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  • Plan Afghanistan

    In November 2004 an unknown mystery plane sprayed opium poppy fields in eastern Afghanistan. Although the US denied any involvement, the US State Department is pressing for aggressive aerial eradiction campaigns to counter the booming opium economy. Due to policy controversies the State Department had to back off. At least for the time being. The spraying took place at a crucial moment in Afghanistan. While Karzai was elected as president on 5 November, some in the US administration were pressing to step up US involvement in drug control. The new approach emerged from a high-level administration review in the summer of 2004 of US operations in Afghanistan. The review acknowledged the seriousness of the drug problem and the ineffective past measures to confront it.

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  • Missing Targets

    Counterproductive drug control efforts in Afghanistan

    Despite efforts by the Afghan government and the international community to reduce poppy cultivation, opium production in Afghanistan has once again reached record levels in 2007. The United Nations Office on Drugs  and Crime (UNODC) annual survey estimates that 193,000 hectares is under poppy cultivation, a 17 per cent increase on the record levels of 2006, yielding a harvest of 8,200 mt (an increase of 34 per cent). The main policy instruments to bring down these figures - eradication of opium poppy fields and implementing alternative livelihoods projects - are missing their targets.

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