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Statement by H.E. Ayoob M. Erfani Ambassador in Austria Permanent Representative to the UN & International Organizations – Vienna at the UNODC Launch of the Executive Summary of the Opium Survey

Vienna, 14.10.2015

Mr. Yury Fedotov,Executive Director of the UNODC,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to thank the UNODC for its invaluable support to our counter narcotics efforts including the production of the Afghanistan Opium Survey which stands as a prime example of technical support provided by the UNODC to Afghanistan. The survey is also a clear indication of increased capacity in Afghanistan’s counter-narcotics institutions in the area of research and data collection. I would also like to thank Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America for their financial contributions to the production of this survey as well as the rest of our regional and international partners for their continued support to our fight against narcotics in Afghanistan.

As the findings of this year’s survey indicate, there has been considerable decrease in both the cultivation of opium poppy and production of opium in Afghanistan by 19% and 48% respectively. The findings also show an increase in the level of eradication by 40% with less security incidences and casualties.

The survey suggests that caution is needed when interpreting these results due to a possible impact of the improved methodology used to estimate the area under poppy cultivation, however, these positive results can be partly attributed to intensified efforts and improved coordination in particular in the area of eradication.

As in the previous years and more evidently this year, 97% of total opium cultivation in Afghanistan took place in the country’s most insecure provinces in the South, East and West. This is indicative of a clear link between cultivation of opium and insecurity which remains a major challenge of a regional nature for Afghanistan. The anti-government elements and the criminal and terrorist networks across the region continue to benefit from the production and trafficking of opium as a major source for financing their activities. They are also involved in trafficking of precursors into Afghanistan which are key to processing opiates into heroin and morphine.

This year, improved coordination between the Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the Ministries of Defense and Interior has increased security during eradication which was carried out near the areas of military operations in Hilmand and Kandahar provinces. In this context, the Government of Afghanistan is trying to further align the counter narcotics planning with the anti-insurgency military operations.

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

As a prime victim of narcotics, Afghanistan is committed to doing its part to continue every effort in the fight against narcotics. Our recent efforts under the National Unity Government of Afghanistan include the revision of our national counter narcotics strategy, the amendment of the Counter Narcotics Law, and more importantly, the development of our new National Drug Action Plan (2015-2019).

The new Action plan lays out three interrelated counter narcotics goals which the Government seeks to achieve by 2019:

–          Decreasing the cultivation of opium poppy,

–          Decreasing the production and trafficking of opiates; and

–          Reducing the demand for illicit drugs and increasing the provision of treatment for users.

The Action Plan will be implemented under an integrated and balanced approach which will include both incentives such as alternative development, and deterrents, such as eradication, interdiction, and prosecution. At a national level, successful implementation of the Action Plan requires improved coordination among all national bodies in areas of public health, law enforcement, security, and agriculture and at a regional level it requires regional and international cooperation in areas such as anti-money laundering and asset forfeiture.

On the demand side, our focus will be on prevention and evidence-based treatment initiatives. We are planning to mainstream the drug demand reduction into the two public health packages: Essential Public Health System (EPHS) and Basic Public Health System (BPHS). Furthermore, the Drug Demand Reduction will be academically institutionalized in the Higher Education System in Afghanistan.

While we appreciate the support provided by the UNODC and our international partners in fighting against narcotics, which remains a truly global and transnational problem, we believe that only cooperative efforts at all levels can be successful to make further strides and we thank the Executive Director for his call for the continued commitment of the international community to devote the necessary resources and support to Afghanistan. With our continued efforts and with continued cooperation from the international community, we can and will secure the positive figures reported in the 2015 Afghanistan Opium Survey.

I hope that the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem in 2016 will serve as an opportunity to shape our collective efforts in light of the new challenges, trends and realities and that we all will be able to use this opportunity for open and frank discussion about our responsibilities and targets, and on how to meet them based on the principle of shared responsibility.

– END-