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Arlacchi Says Wiping Out Opium in Afghanistan Requires Farm Support

Former UN Office of Drugs and Crime director Pino Arlacchi (1997-2002) has presented a draft plan for assuring that the Afghan crackdown on opium plantations is successful. “Any plan to get rid of illicit opium growing must focus on growers’ livelihoods,” Arlacchi wrote in the official text of his speech for the conference organized by the Ibn Sina Research Center on Nov. 6-8 in Kabul. “The only strategy that has been successful wherever it has been employed on a sufficient scale with the proper consistency and political will involves the development of alternatives to opium cultivation,” he wrote.

Arlacchi regretted that although Afghanistan has been the world’s largest opium producer in the past years, “after 2001 no one has ever drawn up a multiannual national plan, with a dedicated budget and specific deadlines and benchmarks, for the elimination of the illicit crops.”

In the two years preceding the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Arlacchi had developed and implemented such a plan, together with the Afghani government, resulting in the successful eradication of opium crops. But the invaders let opium grow again, in exchange for wishful help against terrorism. As a result, Afghanistan became again the source of over 90% of the world’s illicit opium.

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