[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 25 June 2007, 23:54 GMT 00:54 UK
Afghan opium production 'soars'
By Imogen Foulkes
BBC News, Geneva

Opium poppies
Afghanistan produces 92% of the world's illegal opium, the UN says
Opium production in Afghanistan is soaring out of control, the annual UN report on illegal drugs says.

The World Drug Report says more than 90% of illegal opium, which is used to make heroin, comes from Afghanistan.

It says cultivation of opium poppies increased dramatically in the country, despite the presence of more than 30,000 international troops there.

The report says Afghanistan is unlikely to regain real security until the production of illegal drugs is tackled.

Most computers will open this document automatically, but you may need Adobe Reader

In the 1980s, Afghanistan produced some 30% of the world's opium, but now that figure has more than tripled, the UN document says.

It says that Helmand province alone cultivates almost half the world's illegal opium.

Thomas Pietschmann, the report's author, says production in Helmand has now outstripped that of entire countries.

"The province of Helmand itself is around 70,000 hectares under cultivation, which is three times the total area under cultivation in Myanmar (Burma).

"So only one province, three times as important as the whole of Myanmar, the second-largest opium-producing country," Mr Pietschmann says.

Graph showing soaring opium production in Afghanistan

The report says that while global co-ordination of drug law enforcement has improved, traffickers of heroin from Afghanistan and of cocaine from Colombia are now targeting new routes in Africa.

The UN says this threat must be addressed immediately if Africa - already struggling under the burden of HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria - is to avoid the serious health damage caused by drug abuse.

The report also shows that the overall market for illicit drugs remained relatively stable in 2005-2006.

Helmand's huge source of illegal drugs

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific