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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 00:08 GMT
UN warns on opium fears
By Haroon Rashid
BBC correspondent in Islamabad

The United Nations' drugs monitoring body says there is continuing concern about a resurgence in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Heroin manufacturer
Heroin from Afghanistan is sold around the world
The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) says in its annual report for 2002 that peaceful development in Afghanistan will be impossible unless the drug problem is addressed in its totality.

The report notes that Afghanistan produced about 3,400 tonnes of opium in 2002 - making it the world's number one opium producer.

The banned crop is also being cultivated again in some semi-autonomous tribal areas of Pakistan, the INCB says.

'International problem'

The INCB report echoes growing international concern about the surge in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taleban.

A United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (Undoc) official in Pakistan, Thomas Zeindl-Cronin, said at the launch of the report in Islamabad that drugs production in Afghanistan was an international problem.

Heroin originating from the country was sold all around the world, he said.

The INCB noted that the international community would have to support the Afghan Government in combating illicit crop production by providing farmers with alternative livelihoods.

The report also stresses the need to curb the trafficking into Afghanistan of chemicals used in the manufacture of heroin.

It mentions a recent incident in which the Chinese Government helped prevent the export of five tonnes of diazepam, used in adulterating heroin.

Poppy field
Farmers need other livelihoods

The report noted that the quantity of diazepam was so large that it exceeded the annual medical needs of the substance in almost all countries of the world.

The INCB also warned of the dangers of drug addiction increasing in Afghanistan because of the return of refugees to areas where the opium poppy can be cultivated.

And Mr Zeindl-Cronin expressed concern about a resurgence in poppy cultivation in Pakistan's tribal Khyber and South Waziristan regions.

Pakistan's secretary for narcotics control, Aziz Khan, admitted that tribesman were resorting to poppy cultivation, saying they were having problems stopping them.

He urged international co-operation in combating the banned crop.



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Analysis: The heroin trail
04 Oct 01 |  South Asia

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