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Afghanistan: Narcotics

Volume 715: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2009

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Border Management Badakhshan, Afghanistan (BOMBAF) will terminate its anti-narcotic activities along the northern Afghan border on 15 December. [HL295]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what financial provision is to be made to allow Border Management Badakhshan, Afghanistan (BOMBAF) to continue its activities in countering narcotics in north-east Afghanistan beyond 15 December. [HL296]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the conclusion of the European Union assessment mission in Kabul on the effectiveness of Border Management Badakhshan, Afghanistan (BOMBAF). [HL297]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of alternatives to the activities of Border Management Badakhshan, Afghanistan (BOMBAF). [HL298]

BOMBAF Badakhshan is a border management project aimed at developing the capacity of the Government of Afghanistan to facilitate legitimate trade and movement between Afghanistan and Tajikistan, increase revenues through clear and accountable customs taxation, and tackle illegal smuggling (including narcotics). Phase I of the project, which will end on 15 December 2009, has been working to deliver, among other things, three Afghan border check-points (BCPs) in Badakhshan through the provision of infrastructure, equipment and border management training to local Afghan officials. This stage has cost €5.5 million, funded by the European Commission, United Kingdom and the UN Development Programme (UNDP). UNDP have administered the project. The UK contributed £500,000 towards Phase I.

A September 2009 assessment of BOMBAF Badakhshan by the European Commission concluded that the infrastructure, equipment and training supplied through the project had provided a good platform for further development of Afghan Border Police operational capacity in Badakhshan. The report identified the need for further funding to enable the project to continue. We understand that the UNDP are in discussions with potential donors about funding for BOMBAF Phase II.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) commends the work of BOMBAF Badakhshan, which has successfully established three operational BCPs in the province. While these BCPs have increased the Afghan Government's capacity to combat cross-border crime (including narcotic trafficking) to Tajikistan, the FCO recognises the continuing need for investment into border management in Badakhshan. This need must however be considered alongside competing demands for UK resources, and as such there are no current plans to provide further funding for BOMBAF Badakhshan.

The UK continues to be a major supporter of the Afghan Government's national drug control strategy, and is spending over £27 million in 2009-10 in support of it. This strategy is a comprehensive approach that balances the need to ensure that there are viable alternatives to poppy for farmers with the need to directly target those involved in the drugs trade.