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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora