News / Asia

UN: Afghanistan’s Opium Production Set to Spike

An Afghan boy looks from a poppy field as U.S. Marines patrol a village in the Golestan district of Farah province, May 5, 2009. (file photo)
An Afghan boy looks from a poppy field as U.S. Marines patrol a village in the Golestan district of Farah province, May 5, 2009. (file photo)
Kurt Achin

The United Nations department that monitors global drug trafficking says Afghanistan's opium production may rise by more than two-thirds this year.  In a new report, the U.N. warns the resulting increase in profits will translate into even more money to fund insurgent groups in the war-ravaged country.

The U.N.’s Office on Drugs and Crime says Afghan farmers of opium - the main ingredient in heroin - are expecting higher yields this year, as their fields recover from a crop disease that lowered supply last year.

Afghanistan was already supplying more than 80 percent of the world’s opium, but with speculation and market insecurity driving prices higher than ever, the U.N. report says even more areas within the country are being cultivated.

Afghanistan’s role in what the U.N. conservatively estimates to be a $66 billion world opium trade brings in up to $2 billion a year - nine percent of the country's gross domestic product.

The UNODC says at least one million Afghan families are affected by addiction to opium-related drugs, and the number is growing. Intravenous injection habits are reported to be fueling an epidemic of the AIDS-causing HIV virus in the country.

The UNODC's representative in Afghanistan, Jean-Luc Lemahieu, says the drug trade is destabilizing.  

“The production and trafficking of narcotics inhibits security … within Afghanistan, the region, and internationally," said Lemahieu. "We all are being burnt by the same flame.”

Lemahieu says insurgent groups, led by the Taliban and including the Haqqani network, keep a significant slice of the drug profits to fund their operations.

“You could argue that about 10 percent would go to the insurgents, or 200 million [dollars] … Potentially, the insurgents this year will make 700 million [dollars]," said Lemahieu.  

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan says it takes the drug and insurgency connection very seriously.

“Drugs are the biggest financer of the insurgents," said Brigadier General Carsten Jacobsen, a Kabul ISAF spokesman. "That has to be stopped, and we have made progress.  Only in the last three weeks, three-quarters of a billion dollars worth of drugs - found and destroyed.”

In its report, the United Nations has also urged Afghanistan’s neighbors - including Pakistan - to uproot networks on their side of the Afghan border that facilitate drug trafficking.  A major chunk of Afghanistan’s drug exports are smuggled through both Pakistan and Iran.

You May Like

US, Brazil's Climate-Change Plan: More Renewables, Less Deforestation

Officials say joint initiative on climate change will allow Brazil, United States to strengthen and accelerate cooperation on issues ranging from land use to clean energy More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

After Nearly a Century, Voodoo Opera Rises Again

Opera centers on character named Lolo, a Louisiana plantation worker and Voodoo priestess More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishui
X
Abdulaziz Billow
June 30, 2015 2:16 PM
Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs