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Opium poppies in Afghanistan

Michael_ancram_2Devizes MP Michael Ancram, formerly Shadow Foreign Secretary, has received a somewhat alarming written answer about drugs in Afghanistan. (Poppies can be turned into opium.)

"Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of UK efforts to eradicate poppy growing in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. [227977]

Bill Rammell: Poppy eradication is the responsibility of the Afghan government. The UK is not directly involved in this activity, but we do provide support to the planning, monitoring and targeting work of the Afghan eradication forces.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime reports that 5,480 hectares were eradicated in 2008, down on 19,047 hectares in 2007. This is disappointing. But the picture is more nuanced. The drop in eradication has been accompanied by a drop of nearly one fifth in poppy cultivation, which is a significant success. Furthermore, eradication efforts in Helmand targeted land cultivated by individuals of significance in the narcotics trade."

Does the Government need to become a bit more directly engaged in addressing this menace?


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