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Burma: Drugs

Volume 465: debated on Thursday 25 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment has been made of the impact of the increase in poppy cultivation in Burma on peace and security in the region; and if he will make a statement. (159561)

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported an increase in poppy cultivation in Burma of 29 per cent. in 2007, from 21,500 hectares to 27,700 hectares. This follows six years of decrease. Cultivation is concentrated in South Shan State, which accounts for 90 per cent. of opium grown in Burma. Most of the poppy-growing areas are outside government control.

The UK has not made any assessment on the impact on peace and security in the region. However, UNODC assess that where drug-growing areas and insecurity overlap, the activity of criminal groups can add to instability by trying to control poppy farming and using drugs to fund their operations. The need for sustained alternative development programmes for the poor communities to help them turn to a legal income is therefore essential to ensure that cultivation in Burma is reduced.