Opium crops spread in Afghanistan as Taliban gains ground, UN says
Vienna – The cultivation of opium poppy in Afghanistan, the world’s main source of heroin, has risen to its third-highest level in more than 20 years, the United Nations confirmed on Sunday, as the Taliban insurgency gains ground.
In the key findings of its annual Afghanistan opium survey, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said the total area of land devoted to poppy cultivation had risen 10 percent in 2016 to 201,000 hectares (497,000 acres).
“The survey shows a worrying reversal in efforts to combat the persistent problem of illicit drugs and their impact on development, health and security,” UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said in a statement.
The government’s loosening grip on security in many areas contributed to a collapse in poppy eradication efforts, a method championed by the United States after it led an invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 when the country was under Taliban rule.