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Afghanistan: Drugs

Volume 463: debated on Thursday 19 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to disrupt the supply of illegal drugs originating from (a) Afghanistan and (b) South America to the United Kingdom. (147302)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) contributes directly to the delivery of the UK’s National Drugs Strategy by supporting efforts to disrupt the supply of illicit drugs to the UK. Preventing the importation of heroin from Afghanistan and cocaine from Latin America into the UK is a top priority for our international efforts. We engage with countries along the main trafficking routes from Afghanistan, especially Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and the Balkans, and Latin America, especially the Caribbean and West Africa, as well as with the producer countries. Our overseas posts provide the operational base for the Serious Organised Crime Agency's overseas work, which acts to support the law enforcement activity of partner agencies.

The UK works closely with host Governments to support action to disrupt trafficking, seize consignments of illicit drugs, and their financial proceeds, and ensure effective prosecution of offenders. We help to build capacity amongst the region's law enforcement agencies and judiciary with the provision of legal drafting, law enforcement and prosecution training and equipment. We work closely with other partners including the EU and US to maximise effect.

The UK is working with the Afghan Government and the international community to bring about a sustainable reduction in the cultivation, production and trafficking of opium in Afghanistan. We are spending £270 million over three years in support of the Afghan Government’s National Drug Control Strategy and its four priorities—targeting the trafficker, strengthening and diversifying legal rural livelihoods, reducing demand and developing state institutions. Some £2.7 million of FCO funds has been allocated to Afghan regional capacity building since 2005, as well as bilateral funding for Pakistan and Iran of nearly £1 million.

In addition £6 million of Home Office funds is being spent on procurement of two helicopters for use by the Pakistan anti-narcotics force, as announced by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer on 8 March 2006.

The UK also devotes considerable resources within the Latin American region to combat the trafficking of cocaine to the UK. Through its Global Opportunities Fund, the FCO has allocated £1.7 million since 2005 to specific projects to support counter-narcotics efforts in the Latin American region. For the current financial year, a sum of £647,000 has been allocated.