Opium production in Afghanistan is at the highest level ever recorded and shows an increase of 50 percent from last year. The increase in opium cultivation is a result of the resurgence of Taliban rebels. The head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, said in a statement: ?The southern part of Afghanistan was displaying the ominous hallmarks of incipient collapse, with large-scale drug cultivation and trafficking, insurgency and terrorism, crime and corruption.?
September 3, 2006
Opium Harvest at Record Level in Afghanistan
By CARLOTTA GALL
KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 2 ? Afghanistan?s opium harvest this year has reached the highest levels ever recorded, showing an increase of almost 50 percent from last year, the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, said Saturday in Kabul.
He described the figures as ?alarming? and ?very bad news? for the Afghan government and international donors who have poured millions of dollars into programs to reduce the poppy crop since 2001.
He said the increase in cultivation was fueled by the resurgence of Taliban rebels in the south, the country?s prime opium growing region. As the insurgents have stepped up their attacks, they have also encouraged and profited from the drug trade, promising protection to growers if they worked to expand their opium operations.