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Global spike in drug abuse looms from surge in Afghan narcotics production — UN

According to UN's drug office official, a spike in drug production in Afghanistan can result in an upsurge in drug use throughout the world, including in Russia

VIENNA, November 15. /TASS/. The dramatic increase in narcotics production in Afghanistan in 2017 against the backdrop of defeats of the Islamic State (IS, terror group, outlawed in Russia) in Syria and Iraq could indicate preparations for redeploying its forces to another region, United Nations Under Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Yury Fedotov told TASS referring to the Afghanistan Opium Survey 2017 presented by the UNODC at the UN Office in Vienna on Wednesday.

According to the report, the total area under opium poppy cultivation is estimated at 328,000 hectares in 2017, which is a 63-percent increase and an all-time record throughout the country’s history. This could lead to the production of 9,000 tonnes of narcotics in opium equivalents. Fedotov warned that the appearance of new batches of narcotics in the market is fraught with the expansion of the markets and the growth of drug addiction the world over.

"It is also alarming that such a dramatic increase in narcotics production has occurred right now, in 2017, now that the victory over the IS in Syria in Iraq is imminent. The question arises whether that could indicate plans for a financial base to redeploy IS forces or reviving something similar by another name in another country or in another region? So far, this is just a guess, and we need to closely monitor the situation. However, the time coincidence makes one ponder the situation thoroughly," he stressed.

A spike in drug production in Afghanistan this year and the absence of due measures from the Afghan authorities to eradicate poppy crops can result in an expansion of sales markets for drugs and an upsurge in drug use throughout the world, including in Russia, he went on. 

Under the report, the area of opium poppy fields has grown this year by 63%, to 328,000 hectares, an all-time record for the country. This can generate 9,000 tonnes of drugs in opium equivalent. "Operations carried out by the Afghan authorities to destroy poppy fields are practically nonexistent or next to none [crops] are destroyed," said Fedotov, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.

"We are well aware that the situation necessitates closest attention, as it is necessary to calculate its consequences. Consumption of opioids in the world has been practically stable, and the appearance of new batches on the market is fraught with an expansion of the existing markets, and development of new ones," Fedotov said.

"Besides, in order to win new markets, drug dealers may offer drugs at lower prices to attract more people. This may trigger an upsurge in drug use in many regions of the globe, and possibly also in Russia," he stressed.