Pubdate: Thu, 28 Jun 2007
Source: Accra Daily Mail, The (Ghana)
Copyright: 2007sAccra Daily Mail


Global Rates Holding Steady

The production, trafficking and consumption of most illegal drugs 
remained steady last year, and law enforcement agencies are becoming 
more successful in their fight against the scourge, according to a 
United Nations report released this week.

Launching the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2007 World Drug 
Report, issued to mark the International Day against Drug Abuse and 
Illicit Trafficking, UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa 
said the latest findings should dispel recent fears that the world 
was headed for an epidemic of drug abuse.

"There is some grounds for optimism that the runaway train of drug 
addiction has slowed down," Mr. Costa said in a message marking the 
Day, with the market for nearly all major drugs - including cocaine, 
heroin, cannabis and amphetamines - falling or remaining stable in 2005-06.

Coca cultivation in the Andes, a major production region, continues 
to decline, the report found, and global cocaine consumption has also 
stabilized, although a reduction in the United States has been offset 
by what UNODC described as an alarming increase in Europe.

The prevalence of amphetamine-type stimulants, such as ecstasy, is 
also steady or in retreat in many countries, while there has been no 
rise - for the first time in decades - in the production or 
consumption of cannabis.

"The much greater number of pot smokers seeking treatment shows that 
the new strains of high-potency cannabis make people sick, not high," 
Mr. Costa said, while cautioning that authorities worldwide cannot 
afford to ease off in their efforts to restrict or eliminate illicit drug use.

He noted that opium production remains an enormous problem in 
Afghanistan, where more than 90 per cent of the world's supply is 
cultivated and the number of local addicts is on the rise. In one 
Afghan province alone, Helmand, more opium is cultivated than in the 
rest of the country combined or in Myanmar or Colombia.

"Effective surgery on Helmand's drug and insurgency cancer will rid 
the world of the most dangerous source of its most dangerous narcotic 
and go a long way to bringing security to the region," Mr. Costa said.

The report noted that law enforcement agencies are improving in their 
efforts to carry out drug seizures; more than 45 per cent of the 
world's cocaine is being intercepted and at least 25 per cent of the 
world's heroin, up from 24 per cent and 15 per cent respectively in 1999.

In response, many traffickers are seeking new routes, particularly in 
Africa, and Mr. Costa stressed that this threat must be stamped out 
quickly with coordinated attack on organized crime, money laundering 
and corruption.

He added that if the drug problem is to be reduced in the 
longer-term, governments must turn more towards preventative measures 
that tackle the problem at the source - drug users.

"The lives of at least one out of every 200 people in the world are 
ruled by drugs. Drug addiction is an illness that must, and can be 
prevented and treated," he said, calling for early detection tests, 
better therapies and the integration of drug treatment into public 
health and social services programmes.

In his message marking the Day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged 
countries to devote more time and effort to reducing demand and not 
just to reducing supply.

"With less demand, there would be less need for supply, and fewer 
incentives for criminals to traffic drugs," he said, calling for a 
collective effort from politicians, health-care and social workers, 
the media, the criminal justice system, teachers and parents to 
combat drug abuse.

UN News Centre
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