25 June, 2011

World Drug Report 2011 launched in Islamabad

Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Ahead of International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) launched World Drug Report 2011 on 23 June at United Nations Headquarters.

In Islamabad, the Report was launched on Friday by Iftikhar Ahmed, Secretary Ministry of Narcotics Control; Major General Syed Shakeel Hussain, Director General Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) and H. E. Rauf Engin Soysal, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Assistance to Pakistan. The report named opiates such as heroin as the most damaging of the illegal drugs because heroin users receive more treatment for their problems than other drug users. Afghanistan grows the bulk of the world's opium poppies. Global opium production was 7,853 million tonnes (mt) in 2009 - Afghanistan produced just under 7,000 mt of this.

Iftikhar Ahmed called Pakistan - “a victim country” as “Afghan opium production has resulted in negative social, health and economic consequences for the country.”
He highlighted that “Afghanistan is producing almost 90% of the total world opium and heroin, of which almost 40% trafficked through Pakistan or over 35% of the global total.” During transition, the drugs are also consumed in the local market while benefiting criminal groups along drug trafficking routes, he added.

Jeremy Douglas, Representative UNODC noted that “Pakistan is particularly vulnerable to the trafficking of Afghan opiates and this poses a burden on public health, criminal justice and security systems.”

On a positive note, Pakistan was one of the three countries with the highest confiscation rate for narcotics drugs and precursor chemicals, according to Pakistan Economic Survey 2010-11. During the year 2010-11, 20,567kg of hashish, 3,456.5kg of morphine, 879.6kg of opium and 725.4kg of heroin were seized. “Anti Narcotics Force is the premier law enforcement agency of Pakistan in the area of drug control and has had significant successes, including some of the largest drug and precursor seizures in the world” said Major General Syed, Director General Anti Narcotics Force.

The World Drug report highlights the factors that drive the world's consumption, production and trafficking of illicit drugs and presents a comprehensive analysis of key drug markets, namely opium/heroin, coca/cocaine, amphetamine-type stimulants and cannabis. The report found that while global markets for cocaine, heroin and cannabis declined or remained stable, the production and abuse of prescription drugs and new synthetic drugs rose. While opium cultivation in Afghanistan remained stable, the global trend was mainly driven by increase in production in Myanmar, where cultivation rose by about 20 per cent from 2009.

According to UNODC estimates, globally, between 149 and 272 million people, or 3.3 per cent to 6.1 per cent of the population aged 15-64, used illicit substances at least once in 2009. Cannabis is by far the most widely used illicit drug type, consumed by between 125 and 203 million people worldwide in 2009. "The countries most often identified as sources by the cannabis resin (hash) consumer markets are Morocco, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Nepal/India.