Today as part of the two day conference hosted by the OSCE on the “Enhancement of Mechanisms to Cope with Increasing Spread of Illicit Drugs amongst Young People”, H.E. Minister Azimi delivered a speech giving an overview of the drug control situation in Afghanistan. She noted that poppy cultivation had increased by 7% compared with previous years. Tragically, Afghanistan also witnessed an alarming increase in the rate of addiction in its people with recent surveys showing approximately 2.9 to 3.6 million Afghans could test positive for one or more drugs and 1.0 to 1.2 million of these people are children. Minister Azimi noted several challenges for Afghanistan in dealing with the drug problem, including: ineffective alternative livelihood programs and insufficient resources in the area of addiction treatment.
Success in countering narcotics will be gained through addressing the growing link between drug trade and terrorism and focusing on the root causes of illicit drug cultivation including poverty, unemployment, and lack of alternative livelihood. Minister Azimi also noted that The drivers of drug business at regional and international levels need to be addressed with a special focus on its financial aspect in combination with intensified efforts to combat trafficking in precursors. Overall success in Afghanistan, the region and the world will only come about with increased cooperation and coordination in counter narcotic efforts through information sharing. Minister Azimi further noted that 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. She sees a a great potential in civil society institutions in helping with preventive measures.
Minister Azimi concluded noting that, “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.” Further to this, she noted that, “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.”