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Afghanistan

Volume 406: debated on Monday 9 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the total cost has been of the Afghan drug elimination programme. [117365]

Repeated internal conflict over the last 25 years, the collapse of legitimate economic activity and continuing insecurity in many parts of Afghanistan have all contributed to the creation of the conditions in which drug cultivation and processing have flourished. The Afghan Transitional Administration have made clear their determination to eliminate drugs from the Afghan economy and society. The UK is determined to provide assistance to help Afghanistan achieve this objective. The UK has committed £70 million over the next three years for this purpose.However, sustainable reductions in the Afghan drugs trade will only be achieved as progress is made on broader development and security. The UK is leading a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Mazar-e-Sharif and has pledged £200 million of development assistance over five years (2002–07). Since development assistance helps to create the conditions in which viable alternatives to poppy cultivation can emerge, the total cost of eliminating drugs cannot be clearly separated from these broader development programmes.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made on the Afghan drug elimination programme; and if he will make a statement. [117366]

The Afghan Transitional Administration adopted a national drug strategy on 19 May 2003. Its objective is to eliminate the cultivation, processing and trafficking of illegal drugs in Afghanistan within 10 years. The UK has committed £70 million over the next three years to fund activities that will contribute to achievement of this objective. Additional British embassy personnel will be posted in Afghanistan over the next few months to pursue counter-narcotics work.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what advice he received from representatives of the United Nations prior to the implementation of the policy of paying Afghan producers to reduce the cultivation of opium poppies. [117885]

The UK maintains regular contact with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on all aspects of its drugs policy. The Afghan Transitional Administration have developed a National Drug Strategy. The strategy has received the full support of both the UK and UNODC. Its objective is to eliminate the illicit drugs trade from Afghanistan within ten years. The strategy outlines a broad approach that balances the building up of Afghan drug law enforcement with the promotion of alternative livelihoods for poppy farmers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list those non-governmental organisations with which he has collaborated in seeking to reduce the cultivation of opium poppies in Afghanistan. [117886]

The Tokyo Reconstruction Conference for Afghanistan in January 2002 acknowledged that measures designed to contribute to the elimination of opium poppy cultivation should be mainstreamed into all reconstruction programmes. The UK works closely with a variety of non-governmental organisations to ensure that broad development assistance helps to create the conditions in which viable alternatives to poppy cultivation can emerge. Non-governmental organisations with which the UK has collaborated include: the Aga Khan Development Network, Afghanaid, Merlin, Concern, Ockenden, Mercy Corps International, Tearfund, Central Asia Development Group, Afghans for Civil Society, Food and Agriculture Organisation and International Red Cross.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the UK street value of opium and opium derivatives from poppies cultivated in Afghanistan in each of the past three years; and what his forecast is for the current year. [117887]

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which conducts an annual survey into the level of opium poppy production in Afghanistan, reported that the level of production in 2002 was 3,400 tonnes compared to 4,600 tonnes in 1999, 3,300 tonnes in 2000 and 185 tonnes in 2001. At current UK street value, this would have produced heroin worth approximately £58 billion in 2002, £78 billion in 1999, £56 billion in 2000 and £3 billion in 2001.The UNODC is in the process of carrying out the 2003 survey. Its results will be published in the autumn. In March 2003, the UNODC published an Opium Rapid Assessment Survey for Afghanistan. This gave an early insight into the pattern of opium poppy cultivation for the 2002–03 growing season but did not predict the level of opium poppy cultivation for 2003 or beyond. It did find however that there was a trend for farmers to cultivate opium poppy in increasingly remote and inaccessible areas.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress is being made in relation to the reduction of opium production in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. [117888]

On 19 May 2003, the Afghan Transitional Administration adopted a national drug strategy. Its objective is to eliminate the illegal drugs trade in Afghanistan within 10 years. The UK has committed £70 million over the next three years to fund activities that will contribute to achievement of this objective. Additional British embassy personnel will be posted in Afghanistan over the next few months to pursue counter-narcotics work.