UN Praises Anti-Drug "Triangular Initiative"
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The United Nations has praising the operations of the so-called "Triangular Initiative"—a cooperative effort between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran to stem the flow of drugs through the region. Although the supply of opium and heroin into Pakistan has increased significantly over the last five years—and the drug problem there is thought likely to worsen after the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, the world's leading opium producer—the UN believes that progress has been made. “The close collaboration between Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan is achieving operational successes. More than eight tons of drugs have been seized in 17 operations planned and coordinated by the Joint Planning Cell, which is one of the key features of the Triangular Initiative,” says Yury Fedotov, the executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). According to the UNODC's Afghan Opium Survey 2012, net opium cultivation in Afghanistan (after eradication) has increased from 131,000 hectares in 2011 to around 153,000 hectares in 2012—a 17% rise. However, production declined from 5,800 tons in 2011 to 3,600 tons this year—a 38% fall. Fedotov says that the Triangular Initiative's next steps will include deploying more regular joint patrols and operations, addressing the health issues related to drug abuse—as well as strengthening maritime cooperation between Pakistan, Iran and other forces in the region. “I cannot overemphasize the importance of a maritime response to illicit drugs and crime,” says Fedotov. “The criminals are using the seas around Western Asia to their advantage, we must coordinate to increase the risk of their detection.”