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KABUL, AFGHANISTAN- MAY 13: Karima is smoking her 3rd daily take of heroin in front of her kids. The young woman is addicted to drugs since 15 years. She was married when she was only 11 years old. Unhappy in her marriage and her life, she started to smoke opium and heroin to forget about it. She has 5 kids who are all suffering from drug addiction disorders, they are all very small for their age. (Photo by Veronique de Viguerie/Getty Images for Vogue US)

Steps taken to criminalize drug trade: Mohib

AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: As many as 600 drugs traffickers have been arrested, 155 laboratories destroyed, 12 storage units destroyed and poppy crop on 4,865 hectares of land eradicated over the past two years.

In a recent meeting with US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) officials, the Afghan ambassador in Washington explained the measures Kabul has taken to combat drugs.

Ambassador Hamdullah Mohib referred to the government’s efforts to address the roots of the drug trade in Afghanistan through legislative reforms, criminalising money-laundering and other acts associated with the drug trade.

He said the government had tightened law enforcement around those involved in the drug trade by providing alternative livelihoods for farmers and developing the agricultural economy and market access.

Anti-corruption reforms in the government and prosecutions of high-ranking officials involved in drug-smuggling were also ongoing, the envoy said in a statement.

As a result of the efforts, drugs confiscated in 2017, such as opium and morphine, equaled 231 tonnes with an estimated worth of $270 million, the statement added.

On June 14, the SIGAR released a report identifying how US counternarcotics programs and policies in Afghanistan have evolved. Key findings of the report came up for discussion at the meeting.

SIGAR representative Jaryd Bern, strategic advisor and director of congressional relations and government affairs and his team met Mohib on June 19. Political Counselor Angiza Nasiree, and Second Secretary Abdullah Khodadad were also in attendance.

The report identifies 13 key findings and 11 lessons regarding the counternarcotics effort in Afghanistan since 2002. It recommends 13 actions that can be taken by Congress or executive branch agencies to strengthen US counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan.

The UN estimated that opium production in Afghanistan reached an all-time high in 2017. As the global demand for drugs has sky-rocketed, so has production in Afghanistan.

A Counternarcotics High Commission was established, with meetings conducted quarterly and chaired by President Ashraf Ghani or CEO Abdullah Abdullah, Mohib said.

The Attorney General’s Office assigned Anti-Narcotics Prosecutors to every airport in the country. The number of successful interdictions increased over the past three years, peaking in 2017.

“Capacity building efforts have been undertaken to increase the National Interdiction Unity’s ability to independently plan and execute operations,” the ambassador added.

The UNODC recently teamed up with the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics to host a two-day conference on Promoting Afghanistan’s Alternative Development Initiatives among Regional and International Partners in Ashgabat.

Simultaneously, he continued, the government was investing in agricultural programmes that offered viable alternative livelihoods to farmers cultivating opium.

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