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Daily Archives: September 11, 2015

Welcoming Remarks by H.E. Mr. Ayoob M. ERFANI, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations in Vienna In his capacity as Vice-Chair of the Board tasked by the CND with the preparations for the special session of UNGASS-2016

Vienna, 10.09.2015

Excellencies, dear colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to extend to you all a very warm welcome to today’s event and let me warmly welcome H.E. Minister Azimi and her team to Vienna. At the outset, let me thank Mr. Aldo Lale-Demoz, Director of the Division for Operations at UNODC, who has joined us for today’s event, for briefing us about UNODC’s engagement in Afghanistan. This meeting is held in the context of the preparations, which the Commission is undertaking for the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem in 2016.  In the course of this process, many informal events and meetings are being organized – in addition to more formal proceedings. This underlines the inclusive nature and enriches the process.

H.E. Ms. Salamat AZIMI was already with us here on 26 June this year, at the occasion of the Special Event of the Commission commemorating the United Nations International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, during which the 2015 World Drug Report was launched. I am pleased that we have yet another opportunity to welcome her here today. H.E. Minister Azimi will provide us an overview of Afghanistan’s counter narcotics efforts at the national level, the emerging challenges and trends as well as the initiatives that the Ministry of Counter Narcotics is undertaking under H.E.’s  leadership, including through the new counter narcotics strategy.

The United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem in 2016 will be crucial to shape our collective efforts in light of the new challenges, trends and realities toward accomplishing our counter narcotics targets as set out in the 2009 “Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem”.

Afghanistan, thanks to the continued support by its partner in the IC, has come a long way over the past 14 years and has made significant progress in all social, economic, security areas. 2014 was a year of political, security and economic transition and marked the start of the transformation decade in Afghanistan.  Despite our efforts and achievements, we are still facing challenges in the country, including those associated with the menace of narcotics. The Ministry of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan, as a policy-making body is leading and coordinating all counter narcotics efforts in the country and is making every effort to eliminate the opium economy in the country, including through development and implementation of new programs as was announced by H.E.’s 100-day plan.

H.E. Minister Azimi is here today with us to talk about the main challenges that Afghanistan is facing of in terms of illicit narcotics, Afghanistan’s commitments and programs for the coming 3 years to address the challenges of Drugs, and Afghanistan’s expectation from the upcoming UNGASS.

I now have the honour to give the floor to H.E.Ms. Salamat AZIMI, Minister of Counter-Narcotics of Afghanistan for her remarks. Thank you.

 

Statement by H.E. Salamat Azimi, Minister of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan Special UNGASS Event

Vienna, 10.09.2015

H.E. Ambassador Erfani,

Mr. Aldo Lale-Demoz, Director of the Division for Operations at UNODC,

Madam Jo Dedeyne-Amann, Secretary to the Governing Bodies,

Distinguished delegations,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to have the opportunity for the second time to address an UNGASSSpecial Event to discuss issues of high priority in addressing the world drug problem and to present an overview of our counter narcotics efforts in Afghanistan, the emerging challenges and trends as well as the initiatives that we are undertaking under our new counter narcotics strategy.

I would like to thank the Commission for Narcotic Drugs and the Board tasked with UNGASS Preparations for the invitation extended to me and for the opportunity to speak in today’s meeting.

The United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem in 2016 will be crucial to shape our collective efforts in light of the new challenges, trends and realities toward accomplishing our counter narcotics targets as set out in the Political Declaration and Plan of Action of 2009.

I commend the leading and facilitating role played by the Commission and the Board throughout the preparatory process over the past few months. We also highly value the efforts being made by the Permanent Missions in Vienna under this important process.

The Government of Afghanistan is committed to actively contributing to the preparatory process and we are glad to see that Afghanistan has the opportunity to serve as the First-Vice Chair of the Board in run up to the Special Session in April 2016. In this context, we strongly support broader collaboration, based on the principle of shared responsibility, among all member states, relevant UN bodies, international and regional organizations, and civil society organizations, to address to world drug problem.

Distinguished delegations,

Ladies and gentlemen,

 Afghanistan, together with our international partners, has come a long way over the past 14 years with considerable achievements in all political, economic and social areas including in building the foundations of a democratic system and important national institutions in all sectors. The Afghan National Security Forces have been able to take full responsibility for providing security across the country and efforts have been underway in the past few years to further improve their capacity in addressing security challenges in the country including those associated with the menace of narcotics.

Counter narcotics has remained a cross-cutting issue under our national development agenda and considerable efforts have been made in areas such as legislation, institutional building and policy development aimed at improving the capacity of the Government to counter this multi-dimensional menace in the country.

The Ministry of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan as a policy making body is leading and coordinating all counter narcotics efforts in the country andis making every effort to eliminate the opium economy in the country including through development and implementation of new programs and initiatives and the revision of the current laws and strategies under an integrated approach. Despite the efforts and achievements, however, illicit narcotics continues to inflict a great deal of damage to our society as well as to the region and the wider world.

Firstly, organized crime groups are continuously strengthening their networks in our region and beyond. Their activities include not only drug trafficking but also trafficking inchemical precursors to Afghanistan and border areas for heroin production. Theopium economyprovides funding for the terrorist activities. Additionally, a demand-driven marketaccelerates the increase of drug cultivation in Afghanistan and the region.In this context, we believe that the growing link between terrorism and narcotics needs to be addressed under a holistic approach and political commitment at all national, regional and international levels needs to be strengthened. We need to discuss ways to increase operational capacity at both national and regional levels to address trafficking of drugs and precursors as well as to address the new trends including the growing link between narcotics and terrorism and the increasing reliance of traffickers on the sea routes particularly across the southern route. Furthermore, a special attention needs to be given to address the financial aspect of drug trafficking. All countries need to improve border security and management and make full use of facilities and technologies to identify and eliminate safe havens of drug traffickers and organized criminal groups.

Secondly, many countries including Afghanistan have been witnessing an alarming rate of increase in the number of addicts over the past few years .In Afghanistan, tragically, there are three million addicts in the country, among them 9% children and 11% women. We believe that integrated efforts in both prevention and treatment areas need to be made to address this tragic phenomenon and greater financial support needs to be provided to the most affected countries.

Thirdly,many farmers who are involved in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan do so for their livelihood and they only gain 4% from this 61$ billion illicit business.The lion’s share of profitsare skimmed off by the Taliban and regional and international drug networks. As we have long argued, it is with the provision of sustainable alternative livelihood that we can counter the appeal of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and other countries. As successful experiences in various countries show, it requires endurance and well-funded investments to provide alternative livelihood to the farmers and to liberate them from the clutches of the drug and terrorist networks. Experiences also show that in order to increase the effectiveness of alternative livelihood programs we need to incorporate them into the broader economic development agenda and that such programs need to be complemented with infrastructure development and access to national, regional and international markets.

Distinguished delegations,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The National Unity Government of Afghanistan remains committed to the elimination of opium economy. The new Counter Narcotics Strategy of Afghanistan and the relevant action plan will soon be shared with the international community which will set the priorities and the implementation plans for the years to come. In my presentation at the Special Event to commemorate the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on June 26, 2015 in Vienna, I introduced our major ongoing efforts as well as the outline of our new programs and initiatives. While we are committed to the implementation of such programs and initiatives, we will need continued long-term and demand-driven support to our counter narcotics efforts in the years to come. Our international partners have already provided considerable support including through UNODC, for which we are grateful.

Let us seize the remaining months until UNGASS 2016 with a view to facilitate open and frank discussion about our responsibilities and targets, and on how to meet them based on the principle of shared responsibility.

I look forward to be part of this important session in 2016.

Thank you

 

Speech by H.E Salamat Azimi, Minister of Counter Narcotics of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the OSCE Conference 10-11 September 2015

Vienna, 10.09.2015

Excellencies,

Distinguished participants,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be part of this important Conference and I would like to thank the OSCE for the invitation extended to me and my delegation and for the opportunity to speak on a very important topic, “how to break connection between drugs and youth”.

I hope that our deliberations in this Conference will help us increase the effectiveness of our measures at all levels to address the spread of drug use among young people.

Before sharing my views on the topic, let me present an overview of drug control situation in Afghanistan. Last year, we witnessed an increase in poppy cultivation which reached 224,000 hectares showing 7% increase compared to previous years. UNODC reports show that during the last few years Afghanistan produced an average of 4900 tons of opium. Two-thirds of this production are processed into heroin and morphine and are consumed in Europe and U.S. markets.  Precursors are key to processing Afghan opiates into heroin and morphine. 1300 tons of precursor chemicals annually is needed in this cycle of production. Afghanistan and neighboring countries are not allowed to produce these chemical substances, and this is indicative of the fact that they are coming from outside the region. Over thousands of tons of such chemicals enter Afghanistan through our neighboring countries. Afghanistan does not need these chemicals for any legal purpose and this has been already reported to the International Narcotics Control Board.

Tragically, Afghanistan has witnessed an alarming rate of addiction over the past few years. Recent surveys show that approximately 2.9 to 3.6 million Afghans could test positive for one or more drugs and 1.0 to 1.2 million of them are children. Of this total, approximately 1.9 to 2.4 million adults and 90000 to 110000 children could be drug users. Nearly one-third (31%) of all households tested positive for one or more drugs. The rural house hold rate is more than three times higher: 39% rural compared to 11% urban.

Approximately 13% of adults tested positive for one to more drugs. The rate for rural adults almost two times higher: 15 % rural compared to 8% urban. About 16% of men and 10% of women tested positive. Drug use among rural men is almost two times higher: 18% of rural men compared 11% for urban men. Drug use among rural women is almost three times higher: 11% rural women compared to 4% of urban women. Approximately 9% of Afghan children tested positive for one or more drug. The percentage for rural children who tested positive is almost six times higher: 11% rural compared to 2% urban.

As in other parts of the world, Afghan youth have been the most vulnerable group to drug use. Unemployment, low literacy rates, deterioration of family relationships, lack of awareness, previous conflicts and associated migration and displacement are among the root causes of drug use among youth in Afghanistan. Youth are also involved in cultivation, production and trafficking of drugs in the country which are linked to several other factors such as high demand in the global market; insecurity and insurgency; poverty; unemployment and lack of alternative livelihoods.  The UNODC Survey 2014 shows that 95 percent of poppy cultivation takes place in nine insecure provinces. Moreover, reports show that the lion’s share of profits from poppy cultivation and drug traffickingare skimmed off by the Taliban and regional and international drug and terrorist networks.

Distinguished participants,

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Government of Afghanistan remains committed to the elimination of the opium economy in the country. Counter narcotics remains a cross-cutting issue under our national development agenda and considerable efforts have been made in areas such as legislation, institutional building and policy development aimed at improving the capacity of the Government to counter this multi-dimensional menace in the country. The Ministry of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan as a policy making body is leading and coordinating all counter narcotics efforts in the country andis making every effort to eliminate the opium economy in the country including through the development and implementation of new programs and initiatives and the revision of the current laws and strategies under an integrated approach.

Special attention has been given to vulnerable groups such as women, youth and children and focused efforts are being made to address the challenges that youth are facing in Afghanistan in almost all sectors. Our public information campaigns include mini-theater shows, village level awareness programs, media messaging, interviews, symposiums, media outreach and many more outreach efforts.

Despite the efforts and achievements, the road ahead of us is difficult and challenging.  Among the challenges that need to be addressed, I can refer to the following:

  • Insufficient resource allocation to implement programs of alternative livelihood in Afghanistan.
  • Ineffective alternative livelihood programs in some cases.
  • Lack of easy access of Afghan licit products to regional and international markets.
  • Diversion of precursors from licit use in regional and neighboring countries to illicit use in drug production in Afghanistan.
  • Shortage of cooperation and exchange of information at the regional level including on controlled delivery.
  • Insufficient resources in the area of addiction treatment and lack of capacity in the area of prevention including awareness raising.

 In my view, success in countering narcotics in general and addressing the spread of drugs among young people in particular depends on balanced, integrated and long-term efforts in both supply and demand sides and in this context, due attention needs to be given to the following elements:

  • Drug trade is linked with terrorism in my country and in the region and we should address this growing link under a holistic approach.
  • Along with law enforcement efforts, in the long run we need to focus on the root causes of illicit drug cultivation including poverty, unemployment, and lack of alternative livelihood.
  • The drivers of drug business at regional and international levels need to be addressed with a special focus on its financial aspect.
  • Intensified efforts are needed to combat trafficking in precursors and to reduce demand for heroin in the world.
  • The link between cultivation and demand is drug trafficking, so efforts must be concentrated on traffickers who are earning enormous profits.
  • Greater regional cooperation and coordination is needed including in the area of information sharing in order to more effectively counter narcotics.
  • More resources are needed to address the root causes of drug use among young people as well as to strengthen preventive measures including awareness raising among young people.
  • There is a great potential in civil society institutions in helping with preventive measures. We should make best use of this potential and strengthen cooperation between the governmental agencies and civil society institutions.

Distinguished participants,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let us ensure that the gains we achieved this far became entrenched, and let us produce new ideas and new mechanisms to nourish our partnership and enhance our efforts to tackle the menace of narcotics.

The National Unity Government of Afghanistan remains committed to the elimination of opium economy. In few weeks, the new Counter Narcotics Strategy of Afghanistan and the new Drug Control Action Plan will be shared with the international community which will set the priorities and the implementation plans for the years to come. While we are grateful for the support that has been provided by the international community to our counter narcotics efforts in the past 14 years including by the OSCE participating states and partners for cooperation, I hope that we will witness even greater support to the implementation of our new counter narcotics strategy and the relevant action plan in the years to come.

Thank you,

The Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan commemorates the ‘Week of Martyrs’

IMG_1391 IMG_1397 Vienna, 09.09.2015

Today, to commemorate the ‘Week of Martyrs’ the Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna hosted a religious ceremony to remember those who had given their lives in the fight for a free, independent, prosperous  and united Afghanistan. Members of the Afghan community, heads of Afghan civil society, as well as religious leaders and Embassy staff, joined Ambassador Erfani in commemorating those who had fallen, through a prayer service.

All attendees participated in the ceremony with Afghan women, men and youth reading passages from the Koran to honour those who sacrificed their lives over the three decades of war and conflict in Afghanistan.

Following the religious ceremony, Ambassador Erfani spoke of theimportance of remembering the many Afghans who lost their lives in the fight to protect the ideals of freedom, equality and liberty in the country. Ambassador Erfani statted that today, the 9th of September, is the 14th Anniversary of the martyrdom of Afghan national hero Ahmad Shah Massoud who was assassinated by two terrorists just two days before the September 11th attacks on the United States. People of Afghanistan lost their very dear leaders, among them Professor Rabbani, Haji Qadir, Abdullah Karzai, Motalliab Beg, Ahmad Khan Samangani, Sayed Mustafa Kazemi, Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai and others from all ethnic groups of Afghanistan. They will be remembered in the heart and mind of peace loving Afghans. Ambassador Erfani spoke of how now, more than ever, it is vital that we not forget the sacrifice they have made and how we must continue to protect these ideals during this essential Decade of Transformation (2015-2024). Afghanistan has achieved so much in way of stability and prosperity for the country that we must continue to strive to ensure these achievements are not destroyed by enemies of Afghanistan.  Ambassador Erfani concluded by paying tribute to the Martyrs of Afghanistan by expressing strong solidarity and sympathy with the victims and their families who fought in order to achieve a free and prosperous Afghanistan. He also thanked the sacrifices made by the partners in the international community over the last three decades. He said all Afghans and international friends will always be remembered for the sacrifice they made and we will continue to work towards accomplishing the wish of the Afghan Martyrs for a stable, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan.

Following the ceremony and discussion, those in attendance had the opportunity to speak of and discuss with Ambassador Erfani and Embassy staff of those who they have lost to the actions of destructive forces in the country and of the ongoing situation in the country.

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