Tackling Afghan drugs and crime requires broad global strategy – UN official

“To tackle the problem of Afghan opium and insecurity, we need to develop a comprehensive strategy and this strategy should be international,” Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told a news conference in Kabul. Mr. Fedotov said Afghanistan’s efforts to increase security and reduce opium cultivation are to be “commended and expanded.” At the same time, he said the international community must continue to encourage the Government to take steps to increase security to the extent to which Afghanistan can extend the rule of law and can increase the number of poppy-free provinces. Afghan opium production has decreased by almost 50 per cent this year, according to the 2010 Afghan Opium Survey released in September by UNODC, which said the sharp drop was mainly due to a plant infection that took a heavy toll on the major poppy-growing provinces of Helmand and Kandahar. The Survey found that all 20 poppy-free provinces remained so in 2010 and four other provinces – Kunar, Laghman, Zabul and Herat – were almost poppy-free. It also warned that rising prices on the global market may induce farmers to cultivate more of the lucrative crop.Mr. Fedotov cited the need for a broad strategy to provide Afghan farmers with access to markets and a secure environment. “We need to give farmers a chance to support their families without resorting to opium poppy cultivation.” Just as important is reducing consumer demand, which he said must continue to be an important part of any comprehensive strategy. Addressing Afghanistan”s opium problems in conjunction with other related problems of organized crime and corruption and insecurity will help the entire region, Mr. Fedotov added. “What we are doing has a broader impact on international stability. This is what we call shared responsibility. International cooperation is the only effective solution to the Afghan drug problem and its international impact.” While in Kabul, the Executive Director met with President Hamid Karzai and reaffirmed his Office’s commitment to support national efforts on counter-narcotics and crime prevention.“Building the capacity of national institutions and developing effective measures to address drugs and crime issues are of the utmost importance, and this is the core of the Afghanization process,” Mr. Fedotov stressed.He also visited a drug treatment centre and a women’s prison. He voiced his deep concern over a very high number of drug users who still do not have access to comprehensive treatment services, and called on the international community to support national efforts to improve coverage of drug treatment and HIV prevention services.In addition, he commended the women’s prison which he said is a kind of a “model prison” where the standards of human rights are being observed. “I think that sets the example not only for Afghanistan and its provinces, but also this experience can be followed by other countries.”Mr. Fedotov also voiced support for the country’s anti-corruption efforts during a meeting with the Director General of the High Office of Oversight. 27 November 2010A top United Nations official today stressed the need for a broad strategy and greater international cooperation to boost counter-narcotics and crime prevention efforts in Afghanistan. read more

Fuel train crashes into elephants killing five

The elephants had been crossing the railway line when the train crashed into them. The train had been transporting fuel from Colombo to Batticaloa when the accident took place.Residents in the area collected fuel from the damages fuel tanks following the accident. A train transporting fuel crashed into a herd of elephants killing five elephants along the Batticaloa railway line today.The accident took place between Habarana and Palugaswewa on the Batticaloa line. The train derailed following the impact and some of the fuel tanks had overturned. Train services along the track were temporarily restricted till the derailed train was removed. (Colombo Gazette) read more