UN Survey Finds Opiates Less Lucrative but Critical for Afghan Economy

By Jaya Ramachandran

BERLIN | VIENNA (IDN) – Despite a decrease of 45% in 2015, opiates still constitute a sizeable share of Afghanistan’s economy, according to a socio-economic analysis of the latest Opium Survey by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) based in the Austrian capital.

The gross value of the country’s opiate economy was estimated at USD 1.56 billion as compared to USD 2.84 billion the precious year. Corresponding to 7% of the country’s GDP, the value of opiates is comparable to the value of the export of illicit goods and services in 2014.

According to the survey by UNODC and the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics, in 2015, the total area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan was estimated at 183,000 hectares, a 19% decrease from the previous year.

UN Special Envoy Commends and Faults Afghan Authorities

NEW YORK (IDN) – While expressing serious concern about the detention of children recruited as soldiers by the Taliban and other non-state armed groups, in a high security facility for adults, the United Nations has urged the Afghan authorities to treat them primarily as victims and in accordance with juvenile justice standards.

“This is not a place for children . . . There should be no debate about the fact that juvenile justice standards should apply to these children,” said Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

Women and Children Worst Hit in Afghanistan Conflict

NEW DELHI | KABUL (IDN) – The ongoing conflict in Afghanistan is causing extreme harm to the civilian population and taking huge toll particularly on women and children, says the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which blames anti-government elements such as the Taliban and Islamic State, the country’s government and the international military forces.

Civilian deaths and injuries caused by pro-government forces resulted in 17 per cent of civilian casualties – 14 per cent from Afghan security forces, two per cent from international military forces, and one per cent from pro-government armed groups.

Controversy About Afghan October Elections

By Martine van Bijlert

KABUL – In a brief press conference on January 18, 2016, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced the date for Afghanistan’s next vote: October 15, 2016. But the preparations for the elections – for the lower house of parliament and, for the first time, district councils – are complicated by ongoing controversies over the legitimacy of the current IEC, the nature of the electoral reforms that need to precede the elections as well as who will be organising them and under which amended laws.

Peace is a Long Shot in Afghanistan, But Well Worth Trying

LONDON – The so-called Quadrilateral Coordination Group – comprising representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the U.S. – met in Kabul on January 18 to hold discussions on a roadmap to peace in Afghanistan.

A former Taliban senior official said that “military confrontation is not the solution” and that a “political solution” was needed to end the war in Afghanistan. “The motivation for peace talks was very weak in the past,” Mohammad Hassan Haqyar said. “But now the situation has changed and the parties seem to have a readiness for dialogue.”

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