Afghanistan is fuelling a 43 and a half billion euro heroin and opium market serving 15 million addicts according to a UN report.
The equivalent of 3,500 tonnes of opium is smuggled out of the country every year and less than two per cent of it is seized by the authorities. Afghanistan produces 92 per cent of the world’s opium. About two thirds of the opium paste made from poppies is turned into heroin in Afghanistan, while the rest of it is trafficked as opium. Europe accounts for 19 per cent of the world’s opiate consumption, closely followed by Russia and Iran on 15 per cent. The author of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime report, Antonia Maria Costa says, as a result, “a perfect storm of drugs and terrorism may be heading towards central Asia. The report warns that not enough is being done to destroy crops and opium stockpiles. The opiate trade, it says, funds the Taliban war machine which makes 110 million euros every year from taxing opium cultivation and trade in Afghanistan despite the best efforts of President Hamid Karzai’s government. The Taliban and Al Qaeda are also said to share in Pakistan’s opiate trade, worth an estimated 667 million euros annually.