News

    UN Reports Rise in Opium Cultivation in Burma

    Agency's latest report covering Thailand, Laos and Burma says the area poppies are cultivated on around 31,700 hectares.

    Soldiers and civilians use sticks to cut the opium poppies in a jungle field in Shan State, northeast of Burma (File)
    Soldiers and civilians use sticks to cut the opium poppies in a jungle field in Shan State, northeast of Burma (File)

    United Nations officials say opium cultivation in Burma rose for the third straight year as ethnic rebel groups sell drugs to buy arms. The increase reverses past successes in cutting opium cultivation in Southeast Asia.
     
    The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime - UNODC - said Monday that opium poppy cultivation in Burma rose more than 10 percent in 2009 - the third successive year of growth.
     
    The agency's latest report covering Thailand, Laos and Burma says the area poppies are cultivated on around 31,700 hectares. The increase followed a dramatic decline from 1998 to 2005 from 130,000 hectares to just over 20,300 hectares in 2006.
     
    UNODC officials say part of the reason for the increase may be political instability in Burma, also called Myanmar. Some ethnic militia groups, such as the Wa and Kachin, are selling drugs to buy weapons to fight the government.
     
    Burma's military has set a deadline for ethnic groups, many who have been fighting for decades for greater autonomy, to surrender their armies. News reports say some of those groups do not want to disarm and are preparing to fight.
     
    "We had seen in preceding years dramatic declines, precipitous declines in opium poppy cultivation," said Gary Lewis, the UNODC regional representative for East Asia and the Pacific. In Myanmar, we are seeing increases in the last three to four years now totalling almost 50 percent when compared to the picture in 2006. For us, with our focus on the issue of drug control, that represents an unravelling of the process on containment and elimination."
     
    In Burma, over one million people are said to be involved in opium production. Opium is used to make heroin.
     
    But Southeast Asia - once known as the Golden Triangle because of opium production the border areas of Burma, Laos and Thailand - has been far surpassed by Afghanistan over the past decade.
     
    Leik Boonwaat, UNODC country office representative in Laos, says Afghanistan now accounts for 95 percent of the global production of illegal opium.
     
    "The total value of opium that has been produced for Myanmar -Burma - we estimate the total value is something like $104 million," said Leik.  "For Laos it is $15 million, while in Afghanistan I think the total value we estimated this year at $438 million."
     
    The UNODC says the total potential opium production in Southeast Asia has fallen from 1,435 metric tons in 1998 to just 345 metric tons in 2009, down more than 75 percent.
     
    The UNODC says to cut production further the international community must help farming communities find alternative crops and livelihoods.

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora