News / Asia

UN: Meth Use Surging in Southeast Asia

Policeman guards methamphetamine seizure, Ayutthaya province, Thailand, June 2010 (file photo).
Policeman guards methamphetamine seizure, Ayutthaya province, Thailand, June 2010 (file photo).
Ron Corben

A report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) warns that production and use of synthetic drugs such as amphetamine-type stimulants is widespread and growing globally. The report identifies Southeast Asia as a newly active source of illicit-substance manufacturing and trade.



The report specifically identifies Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia as primary nodes of production and trafficking, but states that seizures of methamphetamine pills throughout Southeast Asia increased from 32 million in 2008 to 133 million in 2010.

It also says injected drug use is growing, adding to concerns about the spread of HIV and AIDS. UNODC regional representative Gary Lewis says production of amphetamine-type stimulants outside traditional sources such as Burma is also a new development.

“China and the Philippines are emerging as producers," he said, adding that Indonesia is becoming a potential source of ecstasy for the entire region.

He said strategies to reduce illicit drugs need to focus on public health issues rather than re-mobilization of so-called "war on drugs" policies.

"Things happen with respect to that phrase that are not helpful for public health or for public security," he said. "Containing the drug problem has worked over the past decade."

Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra says she will renew policies of aggressively combating illicit drugs by targeting criminal gangs and tightening cross-border commerce in order to stanch the flow of drugs from factories in eastern Burma.

Thailand faced international criticism over a similar campaign in 2003 that was executed by Yingluck’s older brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. During that crackdown, more than 3,000 people died and rights groups accused authorities of allowing extrajudicial killings. Yingluck says the current policy will also focus on treatment.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield, head of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, said new campaigns must learn from past experiences.

"One rule we obviously have learned is that combating drugs must be done in a way that respects the rights, needs, hopes and aspirations of the communities that we are serving," he said.

Programs of eradication and crop substitution have led to sharp reductions illicit-drug output in Thailand, Laos and Burma, the so-called “golden triangle” of opium and heroin production.

Brownfield added that Afghanistan, which eclipsed Burma as the world's largest producer of opium in 1992, is already in crosshairs of international authorities.

"As Afghanistan comes under increasing pressure to reduce its production and export of illicit drugs," he said, "drug-trafficking gangs will look to another country to produce and export drugs and the most logical country in this region of Asia is Burma."

The report also says that on a global basis, amphetamine-type stimulants are now the second most widely used illicit drugs after cannabis.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs