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23 Jun, 2010 23:08

UN says Afghan opium use rises with parents giving drugs to children

The United Nations has expressed alarm about the rise in drug abuse across the world in its annual report on narcotics.

Of special concern is Afghanistan, where the UN says opium use is rising, even among small children.

A study released by the UN indicates that 1 million Afghans between the age of 15 and 64 are addicted to drugs – that’s roughly 8 percent of the country’s population, twice the global average.

It also indicates that parents in Afghanistan routinely give opium to their children.

According to the UN study, Afghans are taking various drugs as a way to self-medicate against the hardships that they are living through (one of them being three decades of war). UN officials said there is no treatment available for any of the people there and that’s why drug use continues to rise.

According to another UN report released about world drugs, Afghanistan’s neighbors, such as Iran, Pakistan and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, consume the majority of opium, as they’re considered what is called a transit country.

The report says opium and heroin kill about 100,000 people a year, and according to UN statistics 30,000-40,000 of those victims are Russians. This has led Russia to pay a lot of attention to the issue, including holding numerous conferences to discuss possible solutions.

The report also expressed concern at the level of Afghan drug trafficking and the consequences for countries like Russia.

Americans have failed to create some kind of stability in Afghanistan and the tremendous corruption now devouring Afghan society fuels drug trafficking, shared Igor Khokhlov, fellow with the Institute of World Economy and International Relations in Moscow.

“The brother of President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, Akhmed Karzai, is reported to be the top drug lord in the country – that is what the Americans themselves say,” Khokhlov acknowledged.

The increase of opium production in Afghanistan hits Russia hard, Khokhlov said, adding that setting up a base in Kyrgyzstan would help to effectively control the drug flow from Afghanistan because international co-operation is always effective when fighting drug abuse, but the “basic reason lies in Afghanistan itself.”