Poppy cultivation still ongoing despite ban

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The cultivation of poppies is still on track across Afghanistan despite a general ban imposed by the Islamic Emirate. To stop growing poppies, farmers called on the Islamic Emirate to support them in switching to other crops. “The government should support us or provide us with essential materials,” a farmer said.

The department of counter-narcotics expressed concerns over the increasing number of drug-addicted people. “The number of drug addicts reached nearly four million in Afghanistan. The Islamic Emirate treated 20,000 of them. This process is going on in the center and in the provinces,” said Mawlawi Hassibullah Ahmadi, head of the department of the Deputy Minister of Counter-Narcotics.

Meanwhile, drug addicts called on the government to provide support for them. “The Islamic Emirate may provide us with a shelter to continue living in it. I have suffered a lot. I am an Afghan and a woman,” said a female drug addict.

Figures by the Ministry of Public Health reveal that Afghanistan has more than 2.5 million illicit drug users, and at least 500,000 of them are addicts. An official at the ministry said the capacity of rehabilitation centers countrywide has increased to over 40,000 patients, from 2,000 five years ago. The official said that in order to overcome the problem, there is a need to curb drug trafficking.

“These 2.5 million are in 34 provinces of Afghanistan, mostly in villages rather than urban areas,” he said, adding: “Widespread precautionary measures are required to curb drug addiction.”

He suggested that job opportunities and facilities for entertainment and sports should be provided for youth to keep them away from drugs.

Kabul has many areas where drug addicts are often seen. One of these drug addicts, Ali Reza, 28, said they have “easy access” to drugs in the city and that he became an addict when he was 13.

“I want to be treated. I want to rejoin the society,” he said. “I have not visited any rehabilitation center because people say that these centers are not providing good services,” said Nawroz, a drug addict. The presence of drug addicts in some Kabul streets has created problems for residents. “People’s belongings are stolen. People have complaints. They are tired of them (presence of drug addicts),” said Mohammad Hussain, a Kabul resident.

“There is a need for proper action by the government against drug traffickers,” said Rajab Ali, a Kabul resident. Afghanistan has been among the world’s top illicit drug-producing countries.

Reports indicate that poppy cultivation and drug trafficking provides a big income source for the Taliban, mainly in the southern and northern parts of the country.—Tolonews

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