Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

UK Drug Alert as Afghan Opium Crop Soars by 35%; WARNING ON HEROIN AFTER SURVEY SHOWS MORE CULTIVATION THAN UNDER TALIBAN

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

UK Drug Alert as Afghan Opium Crop Soars by 35%; WARNING ON HEROIN AFTER SURVEY SHOWS MORE CULTIVATION THAN UNDER TALIBAN

Article excerpt

Byline: JASON BEATTIE

COALITION troops are losing the battle against Afghan drug lords, causing more heroin to flood into Britain, a damning report will reveal this month.

A United Nations investigation will show opium production in Afghanistan rose 35 per cent last year. The findings are an embarrassment to Britain, which is the country charged by the UN with eradicating Afghanistan's poppy fields.

Opium from poppies is the raw material needed to produce heroin, and the figures have serious implications for the drugs trade in the United Kingdom.

Charities claim greater cultivation in Afghanistan is likely to lead to cheaper heroin here. The country provides 70 per cent of the world's opium production and is responsible for 95 per cent of the heroin sold in the UK.

The annual UN Afghanistan Opium Survey will show that while production rose eight per cent last year, this year it rocketed another 35 per cent.

That means opium cultivation is now more widespread than it was before the Taliban regime was overthrown.

More than 100,000 hectares are now being used for opium cultivation in Afghanistan - higher than the peak figure of 91,000 hectares in 1999. The report was originally to have been released at the start of this month but was delayed because of last weekend's elections in Afghanistan. It is now not expected to be released until the end of this month at the earliest.

The failure to clamp down on the opium trade will prompt further questions about Britain and America's reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Tony Blair cited the campaign against drugs as a key justification for the war against the Taliban. Before the military invasion in 2001 he said: "We act because the al Qaeda and the Taliban regime are funded in large parts by the drugs trade."

Labour MP David Cairns, who has led calls for poppy fields to be eradicated, accused the Government of not having a strategy to deal with the problem. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.