The annual report of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), released June 26, says that Afghanistan remains the world’s top opium cultivator, accounting for 75% of global illicit production in 2012. The report noted that plant diseases in Afghanistan—rather than eradication efforts—reduced global opium production by 30% compared to 2011. However, the poppy-cultivation area in the country jumped by 14%. Most of the country’s opium is produced in the southern Helmand province—which also happens to be the heartland of the Taliban insurgency. Use in the country is also on the rise, with over 1 million addicts. “Afghanistan itself has become a consumption country and has one of the highest levels of addiction, globally speaking,” said UNODC representative Jean-Luc Lemahieu. (VOA, June 27; RFE/RL, June 26; UNODC, June 22)
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