Afghanistan and regional partners launch UN plan to boost counternarcotics efforts

The launch of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2011- 2014 Regional Programme follows Monday’s International Conference on Afghanistan, held in the German city of Bonn, that discussed the future course for the country after the 2014 handover of power to the Government. “Because the coming years are absolutely crucial for Afghanistan’s future, we must produce a response based on shared responsibility and concrete action,” said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov. The agreement between Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to cement cooperation in the field of counter-narcotics, especially in information-sharing, is unprecedented, according to Mr. Fedotov. He added that it is a measure of the trust built up by his agency over the past few years that parties have come together in Vienna, putting aside their suspicions. The regional programme focuses largely on counter-narcotics and the rule of law to respond effectively to drug trafficking and organized crime. Building on past successes, examples of future work may include training counter-narcotics law enforcement officials; conducting joint raids, drug seizures and border patrols; and tackling cross-border illicit money flows. Last week Mr. Fedotov had praised counter-narcotics ministers from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran on a new agreement that will increase the exchange of information to tackle drug trafficking in the region.Afghanistan provides 90 per cent of the world’s opium, most of which is shipped through Iran and Pakistan. Since 2007, the three countries have been involved in the UNODC-sponsored Triangular Initiative to coordinate their efforts to combat trafficking. “Now is the time for a more result-oriented response to the challenge of drugs, which is based on concrete actions and shared responsibilities,” he stated during a two-day visit to Afghanistan last week.Along with the regional plan launched today, UNODC will support Afghanistan through a new country programme for 2012-2014, providing alternative livelihoods for opium poppy farmers, expanded health care, drug demand reduction and HIV prevention. The agency’s Afghan Opium Survey 2011 showed that Afghanistan witnessed a sharp increase in opium production this year, higher prices for the crop and a flourishing drugs trade that continued to fuel insecurity. 7 December 2011Senior officials from Afghanistan and neighbouring countries today launched a United Nations plan to strengthen counter-narcotics efforts and boost regional stability. read more

In Syria UN agency discovers nine new suspected cases of typhoid near

UNRWA has been providing vital healthcare to civilians displaced from Yarmouk camp, where the lives of Palestinian refugees continue to be threatened by the conflict in the region. A situation update issued by the agency said its medical personnel established a health point in Yalda yesterday, treating 330 patients.As high summer temperatures and regular interruptions in water and food supplies continue to affect Yarmouk, Yalda, and other areas such as Babila and Beit Saham, communicable illness reportedly remains a source of profound vulnerability for civilians. According to UNRWA, health services are extremely limited and lack the capacity to respond to major outbreaks and other serious health needs. For this reason, it warned that its medical assistance is vital and must continue on an indefinite basis.It added that its latest humanitarian operations were conducted with the facilitation of the Syrian authorities.Meanwhile, UNRWA is continuing to appeal for donors to increase their support. Only 31 per cent of funds needed for this year’s Syria Crisis Appeal have been received, while more than 95 per cent of Palestinian refugees rely on the UN for food, water and healthcare. read more