warlords and opium fields

Afghanistan.

More than two decades of conflict has hindered the states progress toward meeting development goals, but opium production has made huge progress. The US-led invasion in 2001 was waged in a bid to eliminate Taliban and al-Qaeda forces from Afghanistan. The years of conflict have severely impacted Afghan citizens. According to the United Nations, nearly a third of all Afghans, some 6.5 million people, suffer from chronic food insecurity. Such insecurity and armed conflict continues to cause displacement and deter millions of citizens from returning to their homes. Tens of thousands of Afghans in the southern provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Oruzgan, and Farah left their homes to escape fighting- what this means for local communities and their economies, remains to be seen.

While the Afghan government has attempted to disarm and demobilize ex-combatants and illegal militias for several years, an anti-government insurgency continues to threaten security in the country, particularly in the southern and eastern areas of the country that NATO forces have struggled to bring under government control. 2007 saw the worst violence since the fall of the Taliban with estimates suggesting about 6,500 deaths including over 900 Afghan policemen; many experts suggest a bleak future for 2008 with speculation of new strategies which might include attempts to reconcile elements of the insurgency.

 

Where there are signs of development and economic progress, much of it is driven by a narcotics industry that is burgeoning, despite more than a billion dollars from the United States and the United Kingdom for counter-narcotics efforts. Afghanistan produces some 95 percent of the world’s total supply of heroin. The narcotics industry penetrates ever more deeply into all areas of the Afghan economy and political system, weakening the rule of law and perverting the political process.

Although its relative strength in the overall economy has diminished as other sectors have expanded in recent years, narcotics is a $2.6 billion-a-year industry that this year provided more than a third of the country’s gross domestic product. Farmers who cultivate opium poppies receive only a small percentage of the profits, but U.S. officials estimate the crop provides up to 12 times as much income per acre as conventional farming, and there is violent local resistance to eradication.

For more information: http://www.unodc.org/afg/reports_surveys.html

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~ by k-rock and l-jive on June 10, 2008.

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