Pubdate: Thu, 28 Jun 2001
Source: Times of Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan)
Copyright: 2001 The Times of Central Asia


KABUL - Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia on Tuesday called on the U.N. 
and the international community to help compensate farmers who had given up 
poppy cultivation in a drive to eradicate opium from the world's largest 

"Afghanistan has shown its sincerity and resolve in helping the drive 
against drugs by banning poppy cultivation, destroying processing equipment 
for opium and stopped drug trafficking," the Taliban government said in a 
statement to mark the International Day against Drug Abuse.

"The eradication of drugs cannot be the work of one country. It needs the 
cooperation of all regional countries and especially international 
organizations," said the statement addressed to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi 

It called on Annan to help provide financial assistance within the 
framework of U.N. resolutions to help compensate farmers,

With a religious decree and some serious resolve, the Taliban has virtually 
eradicated opium-producing poppy flowers in less than a year, but at great 
cost to tens of thousands of farmers who have been stripped of a livelihood 
in a nation already wracked by civil war and the worst drought in three 

Since the Taliban outlawed poppy cultivation last July, calling it a 
violation of Islam, programs for planting alternative crops have failed.

The lack of foreign help for desperate former poppy farmers has strained 
relations between the Taliban and the international aid community.

When U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell announced a $43 million 
humanitarian aid package for Afghanistan last month, he mentioned the 
plight of the poppy farmers and called the poppy ban "a decision by the 
Taliban that we welcome."

More than three-quarters of the world's opium was produced in Afghanistan 
only a year ago, when the country exported nearly 4,000 tons - more than 
all the other poppy-producing nations combined.
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